Thursday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 23:6-12

Jesus Serves the Vanity of None

Pilate would really like to be rid of this trial.  He didn’t ask for it and he doesn’t want it.  In the course of their accusations, they bring up the matter that Jesus is from Galilee.  Pilate seizes on this piece of information. Is he a Galilean?  Why, yes, he is.  Wonderful!  Send him to Herod; after all, that’s Herod’s jurisdiction.

So he does.  Herod is truly a vile and decadent man.  You’ll recall his lust for a teenage dancing girl, the daughter of the woman he stole from his brother.  Spiritual things are as far from his mind as east is from the west.  His world is only sensual.  He is the epitome of a man completely turned in on himself.  We read that he is glad to see Jesus when he arrives.  Why?  To hear his doctrine?  To hear his sermons?  No, but to see a miracle.  His understanding of Jesus is that of a wonder-worker, and now that he has him in chains before him, he can demand one.  But he is disappointed.  Jesus is as silent before him as he was before Pilate and the Sanhedrin.  Not only so but Jesus has no interest whatsoever in placating Herod’s curiosity and vanity.  Matthew Henry writes: “The poorest beggar, that asked a miracle for the relief of his necessity, was never denied; but this proud prince, that asked a miracle merely for the gratifying of his curiosity, is denied” (Commentary, 1906).  And rightfully so.  Jesus performed no miracle to “Wow!” anyone, but to meet human need, and most of all, to manifest the Kingdom of God breaking through his ministry.  Interestingly, Herod heard John the Baptist and was intrigued by what he had to say.  Herod, no doubt, had more knowledge of the Scriptures, the true faith and religion than Pilate.  But note that knowledge without grace only makes one all the more wicked.

So Herod and his retinue treat Jesus with contempt and send him back to Pilate.  In Psalm 2:1-2, the prophet says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed….”  The early Church referred to this passage in their prayer, and then add to it, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:23-31).  Here are Herod and Pilate, the great ones of the earth, determining the fate of the wonder-worker.  Actually, they determine nothing, nor will Jesus carry their water.  This abused man is King of kings, and everything is going according to his plan.

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