Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen." But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him.
Do you know persons like Herod? That curiosity for the supernatural – a combination of sensationalism and blasphemic tendencies? When they are in their cups, these people all of the sudden grow a desire for the spiritual, resembling actual piety quite much. But all this has no room in their real life. They want to “see,” without encountering. That means, they want to observe from a safe distance. They want to quench their undying thirst, without as much as look into the eyes of the person who approaches them with fresh water. They want to look at the scene, but their soul hides behind the blinds of their wobbly heart.
Herod wants to see Jesus, but Our Lord doesn’t show Himself. Later, when questioning Jesus, Herod wants to hear Him, but Our Lord remains silent. How odd that is: Hasn’t the Son become flesh precisely to be seen? Hasn’t He formed a tongue for the very reason to be heard?
We have seen (cf. Mark 6:17-29) how Herod’s gusto for spiritual things was corrupted by his determination to remain independent of it when it came to his personal life. A hobby, yes; an entertainment which he fancied. But he was not going to let John the Baptist – nor Jesus for that matter – dictate what he was supposed to do or be like. So he incarcerated John and his voice, and eventually silenced him altogether when, though stocked away in the dungeon, this voice interfered bothersomely with his real life. Despite all the fascination, he wouldn’t trade John’s innocent life for a single instant of pleasure after all.
Jesus knows that kind of false “piety.” And He does not fall for it. If He wants to be seen and heard, it is not on demand but as a grace of Revelation; not as an instrumentalization but by means of an encounter; not for usage but for love. If you want to see God, this is the way to go. An attitude of cynical scrutiny or curiosity, in change, will ipse facto blind you for God’s presence. The eyes of Herod simply cannot see the Lord, his ears cannot hear Him. God is not the object for our curiosity, nor a cheap escape for our boredom.
How can you see God? If you come before the Lord, remember who He is. Free yourself of all “Herodian” tendencies. Seek to see Him for who He is, not for what you may demand from Him; for what He wants, not for what you need; for what He gives, not for what you desire. Pray to the Holy Spirit so that He may teach you to really see God. Come before the Lord with humble love and a pure intention; in such an encounter, He reveals Himself willingly and, in the midst of the darkness of your senses, a light will flare up. For “blessed the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).