Friday, 4th Week in Ordinary Time 

            Today’s readings give us the tales of two kings, Herod and David. Both were anointed, called to greatness as leaders of the people. Both were human therefore weak, plagued by the same passions and sins that enter our lives.

            Herod, on the one hand, was overwhelmed by sins and passions and became a failure. In fact, today’s gospel reading contrasts his weakness with the heroism of John the Baptist. As Joseph Krempa, in his commentary Captured Fire, puts it, “Herod sat on a throne, a place of power, but was inwardly a coward.” “John the Baptist was alone in a prison cell, a victim, but was inwardly strong.” “Outward circumstances do not define inner strength.”

            King David was also a sinner but knew how to repent and grow in God’s favor. He became Israel’s greatest king. The Scriptures do not “white out” his sins but show how he overcame them. The Book of Sirach, today’s first reading, remembers his heroism and mighty deeds but concludes with the greatest truth about his life: that he was forgiven.

            Our life is a struggle of sin and grace. Are we going to give up due to our weaknesses and believe that there is nothing we can do? Are we really powerless and helpless to overcome sin? Do we submit to sin as Herod did? When we do that, our life then becomes a saga of spiritual failure and missed opportunities.

            On the other hand, like David, our life can be defined by our repentance and conversion – our receiving God’s mercy, forgiveness, and strength. The story of our life becomes the story of how we overcome the power of sin and were saved from drowning by the life preserver of God’s grace. Our life can be defined by the sins we commit or by the graces we receive. It can be defined by failures and missed opportunities or by saving moments and redemption. Are we following the path of Herod or the way of David? Which tale of these two kings will be our own? The choice is ours.

            May the conclusion of our life be: sinful but forgiven.

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