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When the hurting is good news


Marjan Apostolovic - Shutterstock

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 09/22/22

What do we do with the warnings that come from within? Do we try to solve the problem or silence it?

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

“Herod said, ‘John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him.”

Herod’s conscience was burning him, and this is actually good news. As long as we’re hurting from the evil we’ve done, then there is still hope, because we can repent. As long as we retain the desire to see Christ, that is, the truth of things, then there’s still hope. We know, unfortunately, that this didn’t do Herod much good; still, it’s striking that the Gospel tells us about this seed of good in him as well.

The question before us today is whether or not, if we look within ourselves, we can recognize a functioning conscience, and what we want to do with its warnings. The crises we so often experience are a sign of something telling us what we have done and what we have not yet resolved.

Getting our crisis of conscience out of our way isn’t sufficient for us to be able to say that we’ve also solved our problem. To use an image from the Gospel, we could say that killing John the Baptist won’t make us feel like an honest person just because no one is talking about our darkness to our face anymore. Herod kills John the Baptist but has not yet solved his real problem. Perhaps he wants to see Jesus so he can then get him out of the way too.

Certainly, however, the lesson is clear: Everything that is not resolved comes back to visit us:

“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.’”


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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