Drunken Grandiosity

head-platterSt. John the Baptist, pray for us that we will always act in a lawful manner, as you courageously counseled Herod to do.

Act lawfully. That is, guided by standards.

Established standards, based on the Ten Commandments.

Law binds people precisely so that we do not step blindly into impossible moral situations.

Herod was drunk on wine. He was drunk on lascivious pleasure. But even worse: he was drunk on his own power. He threw open a door that he lived to regret having opened. “Ask whatever you want of me, even to half my kingdom!” I am Mr. Big! I am Mr. Grand!

Ok, Mr. Big. Ok, Mr. Grand: Kill the holy man. Make good on your grandiose promise. Kill the holy man.

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
His Beatitude Fouad Twal

Talk about a situation of perverse logic. ‘Now, I have to kill the holy man, because otherwise I will look like a bloviating nobody. My word won’t mean anything if I don’t kill him. So I have no choice.’

Drunk on wine. Drunk on lascivious pleasure. But worse: Drunk on grandiosity.

‘There was a red line! This can’t stand! Indispensible nation! Military options! There was a red line!’

Sounds a lot like a similar situation of perverse logic to me. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem frankly asks us, “Who appointed the U.S. the policeman of the Middle East? Has Syria attacked the U.S.?”

May cool heads prevail. May everyone act lawfully.

Herod could have said: I made a foolish promise. I can’t kill the holy man. Herod didn’t actually have any credibility to lose. He could have started building up a little, by admitting his mistake. He could have started to act as an honest man by saying: ‘I made a foolish promise. Better to admit that, and move on with law-abiding humility than to fulfill my promise and make the whole situation immeasurably worse.’

Holy Father to the Holy Land

His Beatitude Fouad Twal
His Beatitude Fouad Twal
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem is the chief shepherd of Roman Catholics in the Holy Land.

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which houses the grotto where our Lord was born, is under the control of the Orthodox. A Catholic basilica, the church of St. Catharine, shares a wall with the ancient Nativity church.

The Church of St. Catharine houses the grotto where St. Jerome labored for years to translate the Holy Scriptures. The underground walkway between the two grottoes is sealed off by a locked gate, separating Orthodox territory from Catholic territory.

In his time, St Jerome could walk just a few feet from his study to pray at the place where Christ was born.

Now there is only one man who can do that, and he can only do it once a year. The man is the Latin Patriarch and the time is at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile…Today Patriarch Fouad released his Christmas Message. It is very edifying.

It includes this splendid news: Pope Benedict will go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May 2009!

The place where Christ was born
The place where Christ was born