To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul. [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]
Even Jesus was made to be sin, right? ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν (2 Cor 5:21).
Irony is what priests are supposed to do. It’s what Jesus did. It’s the charitable thing to do. Something about justice and mercy being one in God. Fraternal correction sometimes needs to public and immediate. When is the time? When souls are in danger of going straight to hell. We wouldn’t want anyone to be a bastard, would we? Behold, that plain truth mentioned above by Belloc:
But the grace which was to perfect that natural love, and confirm that indissoluble union, and sanctify the persons married, Christ Himself, the instituter and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion, which Paul the Apostle intimates when he says: Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it; adding immediately: “This is a great sacrament, but I speak of Christ and of the Church.” [The Council of Trent]
It’s all about Jesus, Irony Incarnate. Jesus, as such, was so offensive that we crucified Him with our sin. As such, we held Him to be a bastard. I did. How about you? But He’s not. Nor would I want to say that about anyone. That’s the point.
I beg readers to memorize that passage from him whose very name (Hilaire) refers to the mirth of irony so necessary to be a Christian.