Dear Father Angelo,
I am a 23 year old faithful devotee and I am passionate about knowing and reading the Word of the Lord. Therefore, during this bad times [caused by COVID], I dedicate myself to reading the Gospel.
I am a 23 years old devout Catholic who is passionate about knowing and reading the Word of the Lord .Therefore, during these bad times I have dedicated myself more to reading the Gospel.
Here is my doubt.
Here is my question.
In Matthew’s Gospel I read that Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus leave Egypt just after Herod’s death. In Luke’s Gospel then, I also read that on Pilate’s orders Jesus is brought to him just before His Crucifixion
So I wonder: when did Herod die? Did he die when Jesus was a child or when He was a grown up adult?
Or is the Herod who condemns Jesus to death an heir of the former Herod who was responsible for the massacre of the Innocents at the time of Jesus’ birth?
I hope my question is clear enough: it might sound a bit confusing but I am confident you will answer it.
I would like also to ask you …..a good, humble and unselfish man who has lived a very unfortunate life , being forced on a wheelchair since he was 47 years old as a consequence of a car accident and who has also had to endure his wife ‘s and young daughter’s death but nonetheless has always lived everyday of his life showing an extraordinary inner strength and who moreover has been suffering from serious health problems for more than a month now….will he be granted Heaven? I am sure he deserves it so that he might finally rejoice in Our Lord together with his wife and daughter….
The priest’s answer
1. Herod’s name is not the name of one person alone.
The king Herod who is mentioned at the beginning of Jesus’ childhood and who was informed of Jesus’ birth by the Magi is generally known as Herod the Great and he actually died a few years after Jesus’ birth.
He is the same Herod who had been appointed king by the Romans with bribery in 40BC. He ruled on a quite extended territory that included all of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Batanea and Perea.
He was an Idumean and he also knew that only a Jew from the house of David of the tribe of Judah should have been the rightful heir of the Kingdom.
For the same reason he was very suspicious and cruel.He had his two brothers in law, his own wife Mariamme, his mother in law Alessandra and even his own three children killed.
Given all this it should not come as a surprise that he is also the one who was responsible for the massacre of the Innocents which is described in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter II.
2. After his death-which occured in 4 AC- the Emperor Augustus granted the succession to the throne to Herod’s three sons by entrusting each one of them with a part of their father’s territory.
Archelaus inherited both Judea and Samaria. It is mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel in the passage that describes the return from Egypt: on his way back Joseph is said to go up north to Galilee, to Nazareth precisely, instead of going to Bethlehem of Judea in order to avoid the same Archelaus who is also described as being as cruel as his father.
3. Galilee and Perea were assigned to Herod’s second son better known as Herod Antipas. He reigned from 4 AC to 39 AC
He is the same Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded and whom we find at the time of Our Lord’s death.
Pilate sent Jesus to him in order to have Him questioned in a trial.
4. Herod’s third son Philip became instead the governor of the provinces between the springs of the Jordan river and the territories around Damascus in the north-eastern Palestina.
5. The problem concerning the first question is therefore solved.
6. In regards to the second question , I would love to reassure you that this man would definitely be granted Heaven.
However, Our Lord gives us a further criterion : we should be wearing a wedding garment (at that very moment of our encounter with Him) (Mt 22:11)
In this instance the wedding garments/nuptial robes stands for the sanctifying Grace without which no one can go to Heaven .
We hope that he possesses it, precisely because of the virtues you speak of: goodness, humility and unselfishness.
Since these virtues well coexist with the sanctifying Grace, they prepare us to receive It and keep It, as well.
7. Anyway, even if somebody might be wearing the wedding garments (at the moment of death) it is almost inevitable that one must go through Purgatory in order to be able to stand before God together with all the heavenly hosts.
I wish you well during this Easter time.
I will keep you in my prayers and I bless you
Translated by: Angelica