In both readings today we have two of the most famous biblical leaders, David and Herod. While we may like to simply caricature Herod as pure evil, like all people he had more to him.
Both men share a fatal flaw. The first reading tells us that David in brief the entire history of all that God did through David and how:
When he assumed the royal crown, he battled and subdued the enemy on every side.
Herod likewise did not easily rise to his position. If we think modern politics is cutthroat, we forget that in those days the battles for power were real battles.
While both many were powerful and were able to battle their enemies on every side, the enemy that neither could conquer was themselves . Both David and Herod fell down not because of some external enemy but because neither could exercise self-control. David with Bathsheba. Herod who babbled an insane promise which he then felt compelled to keep.
Both stories remind us that self awareness and self monitoring may be our most difficult task. It is so easy for us to look outside ourselves, see what others are doing wrong. Almost all of our news seems to be about blaming others. If either David or Herod had shown the ability to think before they acted or even after the first wrong step been able to acknowledge the error, but neither could and in both cases innocent people died.
Perhaps if we are truly Christian it is time for us to stop blaming others and for us and our leaders of every stripe to stop and be self-critical for a moment. Too often like Herod we stake out a position and even when it is clearly untenable we refuse to budge.
David and Herod two men who shared the fatal flaw pride. They could conquer enemies on every side but the inside.