THIRD WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY
Barabbas compared with and preferred to Jesus
1st Prelude. Behold our Divine Lord before all the people compared with an infamous robber.
2nd Prelude. Beg for grace never to hesitate between the Creator and the creature.
POINT I. “They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: You have a custom that I should release one unto you at the Pasch. Whom will you that I release unto you: Barabbas, or Jesus, that is called Christ?”
CONSIDERATION. Pilate knew and had acknowledged the innocence of our Lord; it was against his conscience to condemn Him; but his self-interest bade him gratify the Jews, or he would lose favour in the eyes of Caesar. Conscience being on the one hand, and interest on the other, he tried to get out of the difficulty. He sent Him to Herod, not being able to find out what He was guilty of; then he offered the people their choice between an odious criminal and the Saviour, whom till lately they had reverenced so much. But his plans proved futile, and after some further attempts which were all useless, always shrinking back from doing his duty, he completed his evil work by condemning the innocent, and thus lost his own soul.
APPLICATION. How true are those words of our Lord’s “No man can serve two masters”! It is impossible to steer a middle course between God and the world; we cannot hover between virtue and vice, though the transgression may be a slight one. A friendship which is inordinate, though it may be based on motives of zeal, may cause us perplexity and trouble of conscience. Our own good sense and our confessor tell us to decide at once to give it entirely up. But we answer “No, you expect too much; but I will be more careful for the future. My case is an especial one.” This is a delusion of self-love which leads to nothing. What does our experience tell us on this head?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “But the chief priests and ancients persuaded the people that they should ask Barabbas, and make Jesus away. The whole multitude cried out together: Away with this Man! and release unto us Barabbas.”
CONSIDERATION. Let us try to understand as far as we can the extent to which the insults of Jesus were carried. He is placed on a level, or, as we say, weighed in the balance with Barabbas, the greatest criminal which the prisons then held, by the chief magistrate, before all the people; and to the astonishment even of Pilate, Barabbas was preferred to Jesus by unanimous consent. All, says Holy Writ, with one voice cried “Not this Man, but Barabbas.”
APPLICATION. Who among us, then, can dare to complain that he is not treated as he deserves; that others are preferred before him; that he is put last of all? If we remember how often in past life we have imitated the Jews by allowing sin to reign in our hearts, rather than God our Saviour, we shall count ourselves unworthy of a place in God’s house, and still more unworthy of the meanest office therein.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “And as he was sitting in the place of judgement, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that Just Man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”
CONSIDERATION. Most interpreters believe that the uneasiness of Pilate’s wife was caused by an inspiration of grace, and that it obtained her salvation. The Greeks even honour her as a saint, under the name of Claudia Procula. Be this as it may, the warning thus sent to Pilate was an extraordinary grace vouchsafed to him at the critical moment, when he was hesitating between doing a great act of justice, which would have won his salvation, and an atrocious crime, which brought fearful misery on him both in this world and the next; for we know that he fell into disgrace and was banished, and finally destroyed himself.
APPLICATION. How many times and in how many ways have our guardian angels and our directors warned us and tried to strengthen us, when our passions had obtained such a mastery over us that our judgement was darkened, and we were hesitating between good and evil! All these warnings were extraordinary graces. How have we corresponded with them? How have we profited by them?
COLLOQUY with our Blessed Lord.