FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: THURSDAY
The Last Interrogation of Jesus, and the Weakness and Timidity of Pilate
1st Prelude. Look at the meek but resolute countenance of Jesus, as He stands before the faint-hearted and cowardly judge and the infuriated people.
2nd Prelude. Beg for grace never to give way to any fear but the fear of God.
POINT I. “He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more.”
CONSIDERATION. This last accusation of the Jews, “He made Himself the Son of God,” far from creating a belief in His guilt in the mind of the judge, only made him believe the mysterious truth, and filled him with fear. The words and demeanour of Our Lord had already made him suspect His divinity, not with that certainty which faith gives to us, but with such a conviction as a pagan could feel. But it was sufficient to have made him fear the vengeance of God.
APPLICATION. Pilate was astonished and terrified at the thought that he might perhaps be standing in the presence of God, and about to commit a grievous crime against Him. He dared not take a single step further in the matter without enquiring into the truth of the assertion. And what have we done, who know and firmly believe that we are always in the presence of God, Who searches the inmost recesses of our hearts? We have not been afraid to insult Him, to commit iniquity in His sight, to defy His terrors, even with the awful examples before us of His punishments.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “And he entered into the hall again, and he said to Jesus: Whence art Thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore saith to Him: Speakest Thou not to me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and I have power to release Thee? Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above; therefore he that hath delivered Me to thee hath the greater sin.”
CONSIDERATION. Pilate’s question was not about the birthplace of our Lord, for that he already knew, but concerning His descent and genealogy. But he was not worthy to be taught the wonderful mystery of Our Lord’s eternal being and His Incarnation; such truths are revealed only to the pure and humble. Our Lord therefore only rebuked the arrogance of the infidel judge, by reminding him that he had no power save from God, and warned him with wonderful gentleness against the crime he was about to commit.
APPLICATION. Why does not God speak to you? Why does He give you so little of His divine light? Is it because you are not prepared to listen to Him — because, by constant infidelity to grace, you lose the power God has given you of discerning between good and evil.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “And from henceforth Pilate sought to release Him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend; for whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”
CONSIDERATION. This last threat of the Jews put an end to the struggle that had been going on in the breast of the cowardly governor. The fear of offending a mortal prince prevailed over his reason, over justice, the warnings of conscience, and even the fear of drawing down divine vengeance. His head was confused, his heart fainted within him, and he hastened to deliver up Jesus to death.
APPLICATION. There is no one who does not detest the criminal cowardice of Pilate; and yet in these days there are a great many Christians who give up their sacred obligations from human respect. Let us give thanks to God for having drawn us out of the world, where human respect and self-interest reign supreme, and many fall victims before them.
COLLOQUY with the Mother of Jesus.