FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: FRIDAY
Jesus unjustly condemned — His Resignation
1st Prelude. Consider Jesus, who “delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly.”
2nd Prelude. Ask for victory over your passions.
POINT I. “And he [Pilate] saith to the Jews: Behold your King! … Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Caesar. Then, therefore, he delivered Him to them to be crucified.”
CONSIDERATION. Never did a judge pronounce a more unjust sentence, for He that was condemned as the worst of malefactors had been four times publicly proclaimed innocent. How did it happen that Pilate, naturally right-minded and well-intentioned, descended to such cowardly wickedness? We know the reason; from the beginning he wanted energy and resolution to oppose the popular fury, for he was aware that “for envy they had delivered Him.”
APPLICATION. Nothing is more to be dreaded than the first giving way to passion; generally, the first false step paves the way for others, and brings us only too often to a point from which we should formerly have shrunk with horror. Thus we learn how men once distinguished for their qualities of heart and mind, even religious who were long the edification of their brethren, have fallen into heresy, apostasy, and even infidelity. They merely yielded in the beginning to some slight temptation of wounded self-love or sensuality, but in the end they were blinded by passion and became its victims.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. “And Pilate, taking water, washed his hands before the people, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just Man. Look you to it.”
CONSIDERATION. When those charged with the maintenance of law and order fail in their duty, the consequences are usually as fatal to their subordinates as to themselves. We have a proof of this here; if Pilate, when convinced of our Lord’s innocence, had censured His enemies as they deserved, and given Him back justified to the affection of the people, he would have had no part in the guilt of the chief priests, nor in that terrible imprecation which was unconsciously pronounced against himself, and which has hung over him these nineteen hundred years: “His blood be on us and on our children.”
APPLICATION. Far be from us any feeling of bitterness against our superiors when they wisely and firmly maintain religious discipline, reprove our failings and, when required, vigorously oppose the first symptoms of our disorderly inclinations. If we do otherwise, do we not follow the example of the Jews, or of the sick who are angry with the doctors who prescribe them bitter but necessary medicine?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. “And they took Jesus and led Him forth, and, bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary.”
CONSIDERATION. St. Peter speaks of the perfect submission with which Jesus accepted His unjust sentence: “He delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly”; that is, He looked on it as coming from God the Father, who makes use of the malice or the mistakes of men to accomplish His designs, and in expiation of the sins of the world. The design of God here was to make reparation to Him and to redeem mankind by the death of His divine Son. And it was this that our Lord had ardently desired from the first moment of His Incarnation; judge, therefore, of the joy and eagerness with which He laid the heavy cross upon His shoulders.
APPLICATION. Our Lord here teaches us how to meet the persecution and ill-treatment of wicked men, and how we should receive the humiliations, or even the punishments, that our superiors may inflict upon us by mistake. How has it been with you in such instances? If you have Jesus always before your eyes, nothing will seem difficult; all your glory and happiness will be in bearing the cross after Him.
COLLOQUY with Jesus, the model and King of martyrs.