Among the many threads of irony that pass through the passion narratives is this story of a second interrogation of Jesus by Herod (Luke 23:7-12):
And when [Pilate] learned that [Jesus] was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.
The irony here is that Pilate and Herod, who had previously been estranged, were united by their interaction with Jesus. I guess that what bound them together was their mutual aversion to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem rather than any appreciation of Jesus, but there you have it: Jesus hasn’t even died yet and peace is beginning to settle in!
And now I see another round of ironic reconciliations developing as I watch the current brouhaha over the Obama administration’s attempt to force Catholics to violate their distinctive beliefs regarding the sanctity of life. Whatever might be their personal “take” on the manner, I see signs that Catholics from all parts of the ideological spectrum are falling in together against this perceived threat to their religious freedom. Joining them are Protestants, members of the Orthodox community, and Jews, among others. Kind of amazing, really.
And yet, I’m sad. Sad that the matter ever came up, I guess. But I have to say this: I don’t think the Catholic bishops will give in. They own an awful lot of hospitals and other facilities and I think they will close those doors before they compromise on this particular issue. I dunno what will happen, but the Catholic Church has buried every empire since the Romans. The smart money is, I think, on the Catholics.