Thursday, September 28, 2006

25th Thursday in Ordinary Time (II)
Anxiety and Refuge

Readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17bc; Luke 9:7-96

Have you sometimes wondered about Herod the Tetrarch? Why does someone whom the gospels portray as decadent and amoral seem to be so interested in such religious persons as John the Baptist and Jesus? We know how Herod was reluctant to put the former to death even after he had had him arrested. And today, we hear how Herod was anxious to see Jesus.

The first reading from Ecclesiastes provides us with a possible answer. Could it be that whatever his failings, even in his utter abandonment of self to pleasure-seeking, deep down in his heart of hearts, Herod senses what Ecclesiastes proclaims today: All things are wearisome. What is it then that he seeks of John and Jesus if not a way out, a safe haven, a refuge from the futility of a vain earthly existence?

And yet we probably know of those who see things differently. They are able to find in their apparently repetitive and vain everyday routines a wellspring of meaning and energy. Perhaps we are one of these people. Or perhaps we sometimes experience this. For those who are Christian, this experience might be described in terms of our response to today’s psalm: O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next. It is only in the Lord – in the life, death and resurrection of Christ – that we find a safe refuge from the vanity of Ecclesiastes.

What is it that enables some to find this refuge? What is it that keeps others like Herod anxiously seeking but never quite finding? What does it mean for us to find refuge in the Lord this day?

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