For the most part, my relatives are law-abiding citizens. Sure, some have gotten into a bit of trouble now and then, but they have never been unjustly arrested. If that ever happens, I’d like to think that I would be there for them.
In today’s Gospel, though, Jesus does not visit his cousin John the Baptist after he is arrested. He doesn’t show up at Herod’s palace and demand John’s release. Instead, Jesus withdraws to Galilee.
Why doesn’t Jesus do more? Is this the same Jesus who later calls us to visit the imprisoned? Why doesn’t he do something for John? Maybe it’s because Jesus came for the entire world, not just for his cousin. Or maybe Jesus knew it would be futile to ask Herod for mercy. John had already prepared the way for Jesus before his arrest, and Jesus knew that bodily death was not the end.
In Galilee, Jesus begins proclaiming the Kingdom of heaven, curing the sick and suffering. Herod demonstrates his kingly power through destruction, unjustly killing John. The identity of the true king may have been difficult to decipher 2,000 years ago. The question today is whether the 2.4 billion Christians around the world are identifiable as followers of Christ the King.
The paths of God are many and varied. Some of us are called to visit the imprisoned and some, like John, are called to stand up to unjust rulers. We are often called to follow paths that may not make sense or seem clear at first. But one thing is always clear: all who belong to God are called to believe in the name of Jesus and love one another.