who's the real prisoner?
"Herod wanted to kill John but was afraid of the people." —Matthew 14:5
John the Baptizer was a prisoner, but he was free, bold, prophetic, and not manipulatable. He bravely stood up to King Herod, bluntly proclaiming that it was wrong for him to live in adultery (Mt 14:3-4). He spoke the truth regardless of consequences.
Herod was a powerful tyrant, but he was fearful, delusional, guilt-ridden, and easily manipulated. Herod appeared to triumph over John by imprisoning John for speaking the truth about his adulterous relationship with Herodias. However, John was victorious. John's prophetic reproach reverberated in Herod's soul.
Herod thought he could stop the message by shutting the messenger up in prison. He only found that John's message lived on in the people, and so Herod was "afraid of the people" (Mt 14:5). Imprisoned in fear and lust, Herod was easily seduced by his stepdaughter (Mt 14:6ff). The powerful Herod wasn't even strong enough to stand up to a girl. So he "sent the order to have John beheaded in prison" (Mt 14:10).
Herod was so fearful and guilt-ridden that upon hearing of Jesus' miracles, he immediately jumped to the conclusion that John was "raised from the dead" (Mt 14:2). In his delusions, Herod thought that John had risen from the dead to exact revenge.
Who are the Herods in your life that threaten and punish you for speaking the truth? They are fearful prisoners, while in Jesus you are strong and free. So "do not let them intimidate you" (Mt 10:26). Go on speaking, for Jesus is with you (Acts 18:9-10).
Prayer: "The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (Heb 13:6)
Promise: "Stand in fear of your God." —Lv 25:17
Praise: St. John Vianney valiantly stood up for truth and morality even at the cost of personal attacks from Satan. He brought many thousands of sinners back to their Lord.
Reference: (This teaching submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 14, 2007
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