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FROM THE PAVEMENT TO GOLGOTHA

Updated: Mar 11

Fr. John Roche recalls in the following article how concern for his political future finally convinced Pilate to sanction the death of Jesus which was demanded by some of the religious leaders who considered the life and teachings of Jesus a threat to their beliefs, teachings and authority.

Today political leaders in several countries consider Christianity a threat to their oppressive regimes and sanction various kinds of repression. But today it is not the religious leaders who oppose the teachings of Jesus but many contemporary Christians who abandon the teachings and practice of the faith.

Fr. Mateo experienced similar situations in his lifetime and was convinced of the need to transform society from its very basis and that the means to bring this about was the sanctification of the family. Fr Mateo saw the apostolate of Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home as a major means to accomplish this. The article by Fr. Roche reminds us how our situation in the modern world needs belief in the words and presence of Jesus, just as much as it did in the time of Our Lord.

Fr. Columban Crotty, SS.CC.


I.         THEY BROUGHT HIM TO PILATE AND ACCUSED HIM OF MANY THINGS


 


 “It is better that one man die than the whole nation suffers” declared The High Priest in order to justify the killing of Jesus. One thing that humans really do well is justifying whatever they plan to do. [A guy rings work – I can’t come in today – I’ll ring you back later when I think of a good excuse!] We can come up with an excuse for anything. Indeed, the biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. How often do I deceive myself?

Why were they intent on executing this Nazarene? Jesus had to go because he was undermining the authority of those responsible for the governance of Judaism. He proclaimed that salvation was through him and not through the Temple cult. In the first twelve chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as replacing the institutions of the Temple cult. Jesus was standing in opposition to them and, God forbid, He was even granting salvation to “sinners”. It was clear to the leaders of the Temple that this jump-start from the backwaters had to go; otherwise, He would corrupt the people with His outrageous claims. They knew who the sinners were, and that God despised sinners. The Pharisees also despised sinners because they believed if everyone kept the Law, then God would come to rule Israel – but these sinners are preventing that day of the Lord from happening.

 

So, the authorities made up charges – falsely claiming that He was stirring up the people to riot, and that He was leading them astray – this is the ‘biggy’ – leading young people astray was a major sin. Not just in Palestine, but all over the world –Socrates was made to drink the poison for this same accusation.

The Temple authorities used this accusation of rebel rousing so that it would catch the attention of the Roman Governor. The Governor was responsible for keeping his territory in order and paying due taxes – so the strategy was to stamp on such activity hard before it got out of hand. Normally, they would have accused Jesus of blasphemy and stoned him there and then – problem solved. But, with the Governor in town for the Passover they could not stone people – only the Governor could order a death penalty. So, they carefully plotted and manipulated the Romans to do their dirty work.


Pilate, the Roman Governor of the Levant [Syria to Egyptian borders], was used to trying people, and he could smell a stench a mile away. As with every governor and ruler of the day, Pilate had a network of spies and would know that Jesus was not a political threat to Rome, only an embarrassment to the High Priest and his cabal.

He was known to be obstructive to the Jews. To infuriate them, Pilate played at being uncooperative partly because he was uncomfortable being in Jerusalem instead of nice Caesarea-Philippi where he normally resided. Some say he took pleasure in antagonizing the people who caused him so much hassle. Many Romans have commentated that the Jews were a stiff-necked people and impossible to rule. Pilate would have whole heartedly agreed with that sentiment.


Pilate was unconvinced of the Jewish authorities’ arguments, especially after interviewing Jesus himself. When their attempts were getting nowhere, they pulled their trump card: we have friends in Rome who will whisper to the Emperor. One of the most divisive behaviours in any society or community is murmuring. They are people who whisper criticisms to each other. They do not voice their opinions publicly but in little huddles. Do I belong to a cohort that murmurs?

 

Men who cannot be bullied or bought are few and far between. Pilate is no exception and bows to their threats. We need to pray that those in authority grow backbones so that they will fearlessly stand up for right, even if it is a cost to themselves.

 

REFLECTION


Would people accuse me of being a follower of Jesus by observing my lifestyle?


Would I be found Guilty?


Would people be surprised that I made it into heaven?

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