The Anatomy of Collusion

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.” The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, what it says about human nature, what it says about our relationship with Christ and others, and what I sense God is calling me to do, refrain from doing, or be mindful of as I seek to follow Christ “by his side.”

Lectio: Luke 23:1212 “That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.”

Contemplation: “Herod and Pilate became friends …”

Meditation: Pilate and Herod, once enemies, are now brought together in a common cause. That is, to dispense with Jesus and the threat he poses by his growing popularity with the people they both seek to suppress. 

Luke, the gospel writer, mentions Pilate earlier in his account, describing him as a brutal and ruthless man that had massacred Galileans to instill fear in and suppress the people of Judea which he goverened (13:1). 

Herod Antipas, is mentioned several times in Luke’s account. Herod is first introduced in the gospel after he shut John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, in prison, eventually executing him. Herod executed John because John rebuked him for taking Herodias, his brother’s wife. Luke then gives the detail about Herod’s perplexion and paranoia about Jesus’ rising popularity in the region of Galilee, Herod’s territory. Herod calls for Jesus to see him, but Jesus insultingly shuns his invitation (9:9). From that point on, Herod’s perplexion turns into the desire to kill Jesus (13:31). 

Luke does not mention why Pilate and Herod were enemies. Perhaps their emnification stemmed from the fact that Pilate executed Galileans from Herod’s territory without permission. Maybe when Herod sent Jesus, a Galilean, to Herod Antipas the King over the region of Galilee, Pilate acknowledged Herod’s authority and stoked his hurt ego.  When Luke writes, “Herod was exceedingly pleased to see Jesus.” Perhaps Herod was pleased because he felt his authority over the Galileans was respected by Pilate, and because he finally had Jesus in his grips. Whatever the case, the two brutal leaders both now have Jesus, the populist leader of the people they both seek to suppress, bound and served up to them by his own people. It could not have been easier for Herod and Pilate had they tried. Their broken relationship is repaired by their gestures of mutual respect for each other, Herod satisfies his personal vendetta against Jesus, and Pilate achieves his political agenda to sustain his power with intimidation and suppression of the Judeans he governs by quelling Jesus’, their leader and their hope. 

Today I meditate on how people in power easily and reprehensibly conspire and collude together to achieve their own personal and political gains and goals even when their abusive actions bring about harm and tragedy to others.   

Prayer: Today I pray for the grace to ensure that my collaborative alliances seek the greater good and do no harm, especially to the vulnerable and the weak.

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