The Herods are really hard to like if you are a person who values compassion over competition. The Christian Testament in the Bible includes 6 of them. The first one mentioned, Herod the Great, was the puppet-king of the Christmas story who was outwitted by the magi, and whom the Romans allowed to carry the title in exchange for keeping the peace in this province of their Empire. Herod’s work as “king” was simply to maintain power for the sake of power.
However, as a Christian I am called to find ways to honor my personal dislike of people (not allow myself to ignore the hate that broils in me) in order to maintain my own peace—and as an extension—to be guided by Spirit into how to see and love the humanity of these persons I may intensely dislike. Just like King Herod or Donald Trump, I share in the same temptations to use my own ego in violent ways against myself and the world. Mine just don’t get played out on such a large viewing field, like the Capitol Building.
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Paul of Tarsus uses this line about vengeance from Deuteronomy to remind his readers that we don’t honor our anger by doling out hate for people. God’s clear-seeing handling of the situation in due time will be far wiser and more effective in restoring wholeness to everyone.
Does knowing that someday Trump will have to face the deep pain which he has caused in himself and the world help me honor my dislike of him? Knowing that God won’t allow him to remain in denial forever? Does this help me release my unhealthy stress about him? I wish I could say it did.
Well then, you ask, does it help me to picture Trump being tortured someday by a wrath-filled God for every cruel thing he said and did to countless people on the planet? If I’m honest, this is the kind of God from which Jesus came to free our fearful, narrow, and perfectionistic imaginations. Wanting my enemies to be harmed is just another ego game of violence that Jesus gave us insight into how to handle.
I have found Jesus’ way through my anger and vitriole to be very helpful, but it takes time every day to cultivate and maintain it. And, of course, we never perfect it—which is the first level of violence (perfectionism) we need to be aware of in our own lives. The first part of Jesus’ way through my anger at our current King Herod involves grounding myself multiple times a day in the Love to which I belong.
The following is one of the meditations I use from the excellent book Healing the Future: Personal Recovery from Societal Wounding by Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn, 2012. I’ve found that the only way to not see a person or situation I hate from my egoic place of judgment and retaliation is to practice being firmly held in Love and Light over and over again until my default way of looking at myself and the world slowly changes. This is what we call meditation or contemplative prayer.
- Close your eyes, put your feet flat on the floor and breathe deeply. Place your hand on your heart and become aware that it pulsates with light, love and warmth. This is the light that formed you, is always within you, and has guided you for 13.7 billion years on your journey from the Great Radiance [“the Big Bang”],
to becoming a star,
to evolving into the earth and its elements,
to being born just a few years ago to your human parents,
and that guided you here today.
Every heartbeat is this same light nudging you to take the next step in your evolution, in radiating the light you are.
2. Recall a moment from today, since you woke up this morning, when you felt most connected to that light within you and within all things around you. When today did you feel most connected to yourself, another, the mystery we call God, the natural world around you? Take a deep breath and allow the feeling of that moment to fill your heat again. Hold it in your heart and let it grow there.
3. Now look back over your life and see if a moment stands out when you experienced this same light and connection. Maybe it’s being held on the lap of a person who especially loved you as a child, the day you were married or the birth of a child. Maybe it’s a moment of healing or reconciliation, a special experience of nature, or a time when you shared your heart with someone who really took you in. Maybe it’s a time when you stood up for something you believed was right and felt deeply connected to your inner self.
Whatever it is, get in touch with that moment, hold it in your heart and let it grow there.
May God bless the many, unique ways we find through our understandable vitriole at the suffering and pain in the world. God’s very nature is compassion and justice. Therefore, God experiences distress at suffering and pain, as well.
May we find our own lights capable of shining brighter as we tend to the hate we intentionally or unintentionally foment within ourselves.
Inciting violence, whether inner or outer, was never Jesus’ way. God, please help it not to be mine. Amen.