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YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE IN SIN AND AFTERWARDS GO TO HEAVEN

YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE IN SIN AND AFTERWARDS GO TO HEAVEN

JUDGMENT

In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendour and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.

A GOOD AND CLEAN CONSCIENCE 

Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.

Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.

Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do?  In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterwards reign with Christ.

ALL IS VANITY, EXCEPT TO LOVE GOD AND TO SERVE HIM ALONE

If your life to this moment had been full of honours and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.

He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or he’ll, because perfect love assures access to God.

It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.

It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYER FOR A HAPPY DEATH

PRAYER FOR A HAPPY DEATH

PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER TO ST MICHAEL FOR A HAPPY DEATH 

O powerful Protector of those who invoke thee, holy Archangel Michael, defend me against the attacks of Satan every moment of my life, and, above all, when the Sovereign Judge shall call me to render to Him an account of all my actions and of my fidelity in the accomplishment of His holy law. Amen.

ANTIPHON TO THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL 

St Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle, that we may not be lost in the dreadful judgment.

[Indulgence of 100 days, once a day. – Leo XIII., Aug. 19th, 1893.]

– From: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 
 

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EACH MINUTE BEARS THE IMPRESSION OF YOUR INTENTION

EACH MINUTE BEARS THE IMPRESSION OF YOUR INTENTION

“Man lives only once, and after this comes the judgment.” (Hb9:27)

 

What is your age?

Nineteen years.

Have you counted the number of minutes which have elapsed since your birth? This number is enormous: nine millions, nine hundred and ninety-one thousand two hundred and sixty.

And all these minutes have ascended to God; and God has examined them one by one. He has weighed them; they must serve to pay for your eternity.

Each one bears the impression of your intention, as each piece of money bears the effigy of some prince; and those alone pass current in eternity which are marked with the image of God.

Should not this reflection make us tremble?

“I have never understood,” says Eugénie de Guérin, “the confidence of those who present themselves before God with no other credentials than social good conduct, as if our duties were enclosed in the narrow circle of this world.

The fact of being “a nice son, a nice neighbour or a nice brother” is not sufficient to obtain admission for us into heaven. God requires other merits…from him on whom He bestows an eternal crown of glory.

– From: Golden Grains, H.M.Gill And Son, Dublin 1889

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE GENERAL JUDGEMENT

“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven” (Matt. 24:30)

The pagan theory, held by more than one Government in our days, that the State as such knows no master, either in the heaven above or on the earth below, that it is a law unto itself, and is wholly independent of the moral order which binds individuals, is as untrue as it is blasphemous.

…as untrue as it is blasphemous

And its further contention that there is no sanction in this world or in another for what men may be pleased to call its misdeeds is equally false and contrary to facts.

…contrary to facts

That there is a punishment even on this earth for the collective crime of a nation or people is made apparent for all time by the tragic events of years past. But over and above the downfall of a guilty country and its ruin at the hands of an outraged world, there is awaiting it a further and more terrible, though less immediate, retribution of which we are reminded in the words quoted at the head of this conference, and that is the sentence that will be passed at the General Judgement. Let us betake ourselves in thought to that day of awful consummation, when right will be vindicated for ever, and wrong finally dethroned and cast into the burning.

The General Judgement

In imagination, helped out by the words of the Gospel, let us envisage the scene. The world then has grown old: its course is wellnigh run. The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place.

The day of consummation when right will be vindicated for ever…

False prophets have gone abroad and seduced many, and unless these days had been shortened even the elect would have been perverted. Nations have arisen one against another and murderous wars have laid waste the land; pestilences and famines and earthquakes have exercised their sway over the face of the earth. A mighty persecution against all that is holy and good, against Christ and His Church has broken out.

…and wrong will be finally dethroned and cast into the burning

There have been signs in the heavens: the sun refused to give its light, and the moon has turned to blood, for a conflagration of unexampled proportions has sprung up and spread far and wide and threatens to consume the world.

The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place

And suddenly there is a sound, the like of which never was heard before: it is the trumpet of Judgement summoning the quick and the dead before the tribunal of God.

At that piercing blast the countless generations of the dead start from their graves as if they had been but sleeping, and the sea gives up those that were buried in its depths. All are there, those that inhabited the earth before the Deluge, the five empires of Daniel, Jews and Greeks and Romans, Christian and heathen, rulers of States and their subjects, the rich, the poor, the learned, the ignorant.

And suddenly there is a sound which has never been heard before: a piercing trumpet blast

And then “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens,” a wail will arise from all the tribes of the earth, and they shall see the Son of Man coming “in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty”, with Blessed Mary at His side, and the apostles around Him, and an innumerable multitude of angels forming His retinue.

The trumpet of Judgement, summoning the living and the dead

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived. It is a generally accepted theological opinion that each one of that immense assemblage will have been already judged after death in private fashion and that his state will have been sealed for evermore. None the less is the General Judgement of the last day a final and fitting complement to the dispositions of divine governance; in no sense a superfluous pageant or scenic display but the necessary epilogue of the bloodstained annals of mankind.

The Son of Man is coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty

Man is not merely an individual who can sin against his Maker in his private capacity: he is associated with others, he is the member of a state, or community, or family; he has friends who have come under his influence or by whom he has himself been influenced, and it is only right and proper that the sins of these aggregate bodies, and the guilt of each individual in relation to his neighbour should be exposed before the world and meet with the overwhelming reprobation of men and angels, of Christ and of God.

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived

Then at length shall the ways of Providence, so often mysterious and hidden, be revealed and justified in the eyes of all creatures. Then shall nations, the proudest and mightiest, rulers first and subjects after, stand arraigned for judgement in the fierce light of day, humbled to the dust and held up to universal condemnation not only for the unjust wars they have waged, the rivers of blood they have shed to satisfy an insensate ambition, and the atrocities they have perpetrated in defiance of every law, divine and human; but also in many instances for their national apostasy, their loudly advertised irreligion, their persecution of the Church, their oppression of the poor, the countenance they gave to vice and corruption.

Man is not merely an individual who can sin in his private capacity, he sins in his public role 

These are crimes calling to heaven for vengeance; and yet God often delays, they are not always visited by Him in the lifetime of the evildoers. Sometimes even iniquity seems to prosper in the high places, and an unrighteous cause may succeed and prevail.

At the Last Day, however, “the people will be seen to have devised vain things” and “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them and speak to them in his anger and trouble them in his rage” (Psalm 2). Shame unutterable shall be their portion. There shall be “gnashing of teeth and the call for mountains to cover them,” but all in vain final humiliation and utter discomfiture will be public and irretrievable.

Man’s public and hidden misdeeds will be brought to account in public and in full view of whom they have wronged without anybody having apologised to them, without having even tried to put it right and without having done penance before God and His Church

The General Judgement, moreover, besides bringing fit retribution to States and Peoples for their manifold crimes will also expose and avenge those innumerable sins which are not merely private and personal to men, but in which others are involved, scandals which have led them into evil, false teachings which have sapped and endangered their faith, wicked examples which they have been induced to imitate, malicious slanders that have assassinated their character, cruel deeds that have embittered their life.

Transgressions in regard to neighbour

It is only just that the workers of evil should answer to God in private for their more hidden misdeeds, those against themselves and against Him, but that they should be brought to account in public and in presence of those they have wronged for their other transgressions in regard to their neighbour.

And hence it is not a little remarkable that the sentence of the Judge on that day will make no mention of secret sins, but only of such as may have hurtfully affected others.

Depart from me, for I was hungry and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger and you took me not in; naked and you covered me not, sick and in prison and you did not visit me – and: As long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you it to me (Matt 25:41 et seq.)

We do not take consolation or joy in the thought of the punishment that the wicked will suffer at that great Day of Judgement; we do not find pleasure in another’s pain, however much he may have deserved it. But we may well be consoled to think that at the Last Day God’s ways will be justified and all His claims upon the worship and service of His creatures will be vindicated, that all wrongs will be righted.

At the Last Day all wrongs will be righted

We may secure that the General Judgement will be to each of us individually a day of consolation, for according to Our Lord’s own words the final sentence passed upon us will depend upon the manner in which we have acquitted ourselves in the observance of God’s first and great commandment of charity.

God’s first and great commandment of charity

If in spite of many other sins and imperfections of which we had repented during life, we have always steadily striven to exercise charity, then to us will be said before that mighty host of all our fellow beings those consoling words:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger and you took me in: naked and you covered me: sick and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me (Matt 25:34 et seq.)

At the final day of reckoning God’s ways will be justified

What an incentive this is to all of us to practise charity in the many and sundry ways that are offered to us every day, so that at the final day of reckoning we may stand up unafraid and consoled at that Great Judgement of Our Lord.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“GOD IS A GOOD GOD, HE WILL NOT LET ME LOSE HEAVEN FOR THIS SIN I AM COMMITTING”

No love, no heaven

“Early in childhood we learned that God is all-powerful. He can do anything. Later we came to understand that, although God can do anything, He cannot do a no-thing. For example, He cannot make a square circle. The words ‘square’ and ‘circle’ are contradictory words. They cancel each other out. A square circle is not a something; it is a nothing, and God does not do nothings.

This is a truth to be remembered if and when we may be tempted to commit a grave sin. No one who is in his right mind and who believes in heaven and hell, would want to jeopardise his eternal happiness for the sake of a present and very temporary pleasure or gain. Unfortunately, however, many persons have a mistaken and sentimental understanding of God. They may not put it into words, but in the act of sinning their unconscious reasoning is, ‘God is a good God. He will not let me lose heaven for this thing which I am doing.’

Sin is a denial to God of our love

What such persons fail to understand is that heaven, which is the possession of God in a union of love, and sin, which is a denial to God of our love, are contradictory concepts. They cancel each other out. Without love for God we are as incapable of possessing God in heaven as a man without eyes is incapable of seeing the colour of flowers.

But why cannot God make us love Him?

But why cannot God make us love Him? Why cannot He put love into us if we are lacking in love? Here again we encounter the same difficulty: a contradiction in terms. Love for another person cannot be forced upon us. If love is not freely given, it is not love at all. ‘Forced’ and ‘love’ cancel each other out. A forced love is not a something, it is a nothing.

God gives us a margin of freedom

Fortunately for us, God does His best, with countless graces, to instill and preserve in us a love for Himself. He wants our love. He wants to have us with Himself in heaven. Indeed, without His help, we would be incapable of making an act of love for Him. But, however powerful the graces He may give us, there remains to us a margin of freedom. We must make the choice. We must want to love Him, with a love expressed by our acceptance of His will. ‘What God wants, I want’; this, and not any sentimental imitation, is the real act of love. Our opportunity for making this act of love, this surrender of self to God, ends at death.

When a photographer is developing his films, there comes a point where he plunges the film into a chemical bath called a fixer. The fixer immediately stops the process of development. From that moment on, the film remains permanently unchanged. Whatever the contrasts of light and shadow, they are irrevocably set.

This earthly life is our time of development

For us, this life is the time of development. This is the period during which we generate in ourselves a love for God and, it is to be hoped, grow in that love. Death is the fixer. The moment that death intervenes, the direction of our will is permanently set – toward God or away from God, love or no love. Whichever it is, it will be that way forever.

Sin is the opposite of love

Once we possess God in heaven and are possessed by Him, we no longer can refuse Him our love. He is so infinitely lovable that, seeing Him, it would be impossible not to love Him. But, to achieve this happy destiny we must here and now kindle and nourish the feeble spark of love which, when it bursts into full flame in heaven, will all but tear us apart with ecstasy.

It would be a tragedy of the most horrible kind if a person were to choose self over God (which is sin) in the expectation that God, being good, would somehow set things right. God is infinitely good and all-powerful as well; but He cannot do a no-thing. He cannot equate heaven, which is love, with sin, which is love’s opposite.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, “One Step Enough”, 1966

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 12:38-42)

THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH WILL RISE UP WITH THIS GENERATION AND CONDEMN IT.

Some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. “Master,” they said, “we should like to see a sign from you.” Jesus replied, “It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. On Judgement day the men of Niniveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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“FATHER, IF IT IS POSSIBLE LET THIS CUP PASS AWAY FROM ME” – OUR LORD JESUS IS SENTENCED TO DEATH

AFTER THE LAST SUPPER

“After the Paschal meal Jesus and His eleven faithful disciples left the room where they had celebrated the feast and went to a place called Gethsemani (‘oil-press’). There Jesus told eight of the Apostles to sit down while He Himself would go some little distance away, a stone’s throw, to pray. He took with Him Peter, James and John, who had witnessed His glory at Mt. Thabor. Now He would allow them to witness Him in His hour of agony and humiliation.

WITNESSES IN HIS MAGNIFICENT GLORY AS WELL AS IN HIS HUMILIATION

Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to offer His life for the sins of men. He knew that the bad will of men towards Himself was already taking steps to bring about His death. The priests, the Pharisees and the Scribes had already determined to bring about His death. Judas, one of His chosen Apostles, had already agreed to betray Him and was even then carrying out the execution of that criminal agreement. Sadness and dread filled the human soul of Jesus and He said to the three Apostles, ‘My soul is sad even unto death. Wait here and watch with me’ (Matthew 26:38).

SADNESS AND DREAD FILLED THE HUMAN SOUL OF JESUS

Then He went forward a little, knelt on the ground and prayed, ‘Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as thou willest’ (Matthew 26:39).

This prayer of Jesus reveals, as perhaps no other incident in the Gospel does, the reality of the human nature of the Son of God. As the Son of God, God Himself, Jesus knew that it was the will of His Father that He should die a violent death for the salvation of men.

FACING A VIOLENT DEATH FOR THE SALVATION OF MEN

In His human nature, assumed to Himself at the moment when Mary said, ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word,’ He shrank instinctively from the prospect of death. Death was abhorrent to Him for many reasons. His soul was saddened by the thought that His death would be brought about by the pride and blindness of those of His own people who should have accepted Him as their Messias. This sadness was increased by the knowledge that His enemies would succeed in their plans against Him through the assistance of one of His chosen friends. But fundamentally His sadness was made almost unbearable by the most human of reasons – His body and soul naturally and instinctively revolted against the thought of death. But His will, His free human will, was in perfect harmony with the divine designs of His Father.

HIS FREE HUMAN WILL WAS IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH GOD’S WILL

And so, even though His human nature shrank from the ordeal of death, His will accepted the approach of death. In the midst of sadness and dread Jesus accepted the cup of death which His Father wished Him to drink. Adam had chosen something of this world, some created perfection in preference to God and submission to God’s will. By so doing Adam had turned the whole course of human history away from God, its true destiny. Jesus would give up this whole world – can a man give up this world more completely than by voluntarily submitting Himself to death? – in obedience to the will of His Father. By so doing Jesus would turn the course of human history back to God, its true destiny. Thus He would become the true centre of all history.

JESUS CHRIST, THE ‘NEW ADAM’

After this prayer Jesus returned to the three Apostles and found them asleep. How deeply human is this incident, and how touching. Jesus is enduring His time of trial. But His closest friends, even though they have been warned, are too sleepy to stand by, to console Him. The pain and the agony are not theirs, and so they give in to their own natural desires and instincts. The pain and the agony they do not understand, and so they refuse to believe in them.

SWEAT ‘AS DROPS OF BLOOD RUNNING DOWN TO THE GROUND’

Jesus leaves them again and makes the same prayer to His Father. Again He returns to the three Apostles and finds them asleep. Then He returns once more to prayer and the contemplation of His approaching fulfilment of the Divine will by His own death. The natural tumult of His soul at the vision of His own death causes His body to break out in a sweat which became ‘as drops of blood running down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44).

THE APOSTLES HAD DOZED OFF AGAIN

A third time Jesus returned to His disciples and found them asleep. Ruefully He said to them, ‘Sleep on now, and take your rest!’ (Matthew 26:45). But then, sensing the approach of Judas and His enemies, He said to them, ‘Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand’ (Matthew 26:45-46).

BY THE LIGHT OF FLICKERING TORCHES…

At that moment some Roman soldiers, some Temple guards sent by the High-priest, entered the garden. Judas accompanied them. In the darkness of the garden, lit now only by the flickering torches of some of the people sent to arrest Jesus, it might have been difficult to recognise Jesus. Judas therefore had arranged to give the guards a signal. He would kiss Jesus and, by this gesture of friendship, betray Jesus to His enemy.

THE JUDAS’ KISS AND THE CONSEQUENCES

Judas advanced and kissed Jesus. The soldiers and guards moved forward to arrest Him. Jesus Himself advanced and said, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he’ (John 18:4-5).

A QUALITY OF DIGNITY AND MAJESTY IN JESUS’ VOICE

Something in His bearing or in His voice – a quality of dignity and, perhaps of majesty – confounded those in the foreground and they fell back, pressing on those behind them so that some of them fell to the ground. But this effect of the inner power of Jesus did not prevent the fulfilment of the predestined mission of Jesus. Once more the crowd pressed in upon Jesus. Mindful of the safety of His own Apostles, and desiring to fulfil His own words that none of the Apostles, except Judas, the son of perdition, should be lost, Jesus said to them, ‘I have told you that I am He. If, therefore, you seek me, let these go their way’ (John 18:8).

PETER WANTS TO PROTECT JESUS

Simon Peter, with his usual impetuosity, drew a sword to protect Jesus. He struck the ear of Malchus, a servant of the High-priest. But Jesus knew that He would not fulfil His Father’s command by allowing His disciples to start an open revolt. ‘Put up thy sword,’ He said to Peter, ‘into the scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’ (John 18:11).

‘AS AGAINST A ROBBER HAVE YOU COME OUT’

Then, with sorrowful dignity, Jesus said to the crowd, ‘As against a robber have you come out, with swords and clubs. When I was daily with you in the Temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness’ (Luke 22:52-53). And thus, Jesus, the Son of Man and the Son of God, resigned Himself into the hands of men to be done to death for the salvation of men.

BEFORE ANNAS, THE FATHER-IN-LAW OF CAIPHAS

The soldiers and the attendants of the Jews seized Jesus, bound Him and led Him to Annas, formerly High-priest, now the father-in-law of Caiphas, the incumbent High-priest. Peter and John had followed Jesus to the home of Annas. John was known there and gained entrance. He induced the guards to allow Peter to enter the courtyard. One of the serving maids, a portress, thought she recognised Peter as a disciple of Jesus, but Peter denied this.

‘IF I HAVE SPOKEN ILL, BEAR WITNESS TO THE EVIL’

Meanwhile Annas was questioning Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus, refusing to admit that there had been anything furtive or criminal about His behaviour, replied, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why dost thou question me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them: behold these know what I have said’ (John 18:20-21).

One of the attendants then struck Jesus, saying, ‘Is that the way thou dost answer the high priest?’ (John 18:22). Jesus, confident of the justice of His cause, replied, ‘If I have spoken ill, bear witness to the evil; but if well, why dost thou strike me?’ (John 18:23).

Meanwhile, in the courtyard Peter had been again tentatively identified as one of the disciples of Jesus, and had again denied knowing Him.

A HASTY SESSION OF THE SANHEDRIN WAS CALLED

Annas made no decision, but sent Jesus bound to Caiphas. A hasty session of the Sanhedrin was called. The priests, Pharisees and Scribes were all represented. A parade of false witnesses appeared against Jesus. But their testimony was not sufficient to enable the Sanhedrin to pronounce a sentence of death against Him. Caiphas had previously decided that Jesus must die. It was necessary, therefore, for Caiphas to find some cause for death which would both satisfy the Jews and induce the Roman authorities to make the sentence of death effective.

‘ART THOU THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE BLESSED ONE?’

Two witnesses come forward to say that they had heard Jesus say that He would destroy the temple and in three days restore it. This supposed threat to the temple was a serious charge. But the testimony of the witnesses was not concordant.

Then the High-priest himself asked Jesus, ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ (Mark 14:61). Jesus replied, ‘I am. And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven’ (Mark 14:62). Upon hearing these words the High-priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ (Mark 14:63). Then the Sanhedrin judged that Jesus was liable to death.

Again, outside, Peter was challenged and denied knowing Jesus. At that moment a cock crew and Peter remembered the warning of Jesus that he would deny Him thrice before the cock crowed thrice. Peter then wept bitterly.

AT DAYBREAK…

At daybreak Jesus was again led before the Sanhedrin. Again He was questioned. ‘If thou art the Christ, tell us.’ Jesus said, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me; and if I question you, you will not answer me, or let me go. But henceforth, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God’ (Luke 22:66-69).

Remembering that Jesus had allowed Himself to be called the ‘Son of God,’ thus making Himself equal to God, they asked Him, ‘Art thou, then, the Son of God?’ He answered, ‘You yourselves say that I am.’ This acknowledgement by Jesus that He was the Son of God convinced the Sanhedrin that He was guilty of blasphemy. They were unable to believe that He Whom they saw as man could be also be God. Hence they found Him guilty of blasphemy, a capital offence, punishable by death.

GETTING THE ROMAN AUTHORITIES TO DO THE DEED

But, although the Sanhedrin had the power to try Jesus and convict Him, they had not the power to carry out effectively a sentence of death. Hence they were compelled to appeal to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea, to condemn Jesus and see to His execution.

JUDAS WAS APPALLED AT THE DEVELOPMENTS

After the Sanhedrin had passed the sentence of death on Jesus, Judas, who had betrayed Him, became appalled at the consequences of his betrayal. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the priests. Then, in despair, he went out and hanged himself.

The priests, unwilling to use this blood money for the Temple itself or for themselves, bought a field to be used as a burial ground for the poor. St Matthew, putting together a prophecy from Jeremias [Jeremiah] and one from Zacharias [Zechariah], remarks, ‘Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremias the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him who was priced, upon whom the children of Israel put a price; and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ (Matthew 27:9-10).

PONTIUS PILATE’S POLITICAL AMBITIONS WERE HIS WEAKNESS

Now Pilate was both a Roman and a politician. As a Roman he had great respect for law. As a politician he had a great desire to administer his procuratorship successfully, above all, to avoid getting into trouble with the Emperor at Rome. His respect for law was an advantage to Jesus, for, after all, Jesus had done nothing to bring upon Himself the wrath of Rome. But his political ambitions were the weaknesses which the priests used to induce him to accede to their wishes.

‘WHAT IS TRUTH?’

First they pretended that Jesus was inciting the people to rebellious or seditious acts. ‘We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding the payment of taxes to Caesar, and saying that he is Christ a king’ (Luke 23:2). Pilate asked Jesus if He were the king of the Jews. Jesus answered him, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate, seeing that Jesus did speak of a kingdom as His own kingdom, said to Him, ‘Thou art then a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’ Pilate, a practical government official, not given much to questions of philosophy or religion, said, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:33-38).

HE SAW THAT JESUS WAS NO THREAT TO ROME

The Jews had attempted to induce Pilate to condemn Jesus on the charge that He was pretending to be a political king, inciting the people to rebellion against Rome. Jesus had acknowledged that He was a king indeed, but the king of a spiritual realm, the realm of truth. Pilate, seeing this, knew that Jesus was not a threat to the political domination of Rome. As for intellectual or religious domination, he was indifferent to such matters. Hence he found Jesus guilty of no crime against the state.

A DIPLOMATIC MOVE

But the enemies of Jesus persisted in saying that Jesus was stirring up the people. On learning from them that Jesus was from Galilee Pilate seized the opportunity to rid himself of this troublesome case and regain the friendship of Herod Antipas, king of Galilee. He sent Jesus to Herod for judgment. Herod was pleased at this mark of respect for his own authority. Besides, he had heard of Jesus and thought that Jesus might work a miracle for him. Jesus, of course, refused to cater to such curiosity seeking and, in fact, refused to answer any questions. Thereupon Herod, himself a shrewd politician, sent Jesus back to Pilate.

TRYING ANOTHER STATEGY TO SOLVE THE DILEMMA

Pilate then pointed out to the priests and leaders of the people that both he and Herod had found no guilt in Jesus. But they persisted in their demands for the execution of Jesus. Pilate then thought of a stratagem.

It was customary for the procurator to release a prisoner at the time of the festival. Pilate then offered to the crowd the choice between a man called Barabbas, a political prisoner and assassin, and Jesus, called the Christ. Unfortunately Pilate asked whether they wished him to release Jesus, ‘the king of the Jews’? (Mark 15:9). Now the very people clamouring for the death of Jesus had refused to acknowledge Jesus as their king in the world of spirit. Moreover, at the moment, He was a figure of humiliation, a prisoner in the hands of the hated Roman authorities. Hence they cried out, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’ (Luke 23:18).

PILATE TRIED AGAIN

Pilate tried again. ‘What then do you want me to do to the king of the Jews?’ (Mark 15:12). The people cried out, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate, in desperation, asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they kept crying out ‘Crucify him!’ (Mark 15:12-13).

THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR

Pilate resorted to another stratagem. He ordered his soldiers to scourge Jesus. This was a procedure usually adopted by the Romans before the crucifixion of a condemned criminal. Pilate seems to have thought that when the people saw Jesus so brutally wounded and helpless they would relent and consent to His release.

The soldiers led Jesus away to the courtyard of the praetorium. There they stripped Him, scourged Him until His skin was stripped to the bone and His blood ran on the pavement.

THE CROWNING WITH THORNS

Then, in the fashion of rough soldiers, they mocked Him, clothing Him in the purple of kings and crowning Him with a crown of thorns. After this they led Him back to Pilate.

‘ECCE HOMO’ – ‘BEHOLD THE MAN’

Pilate then showed Him to the people and said to them, ‘Behold, I bring Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ When the priests and their attendants saw Jesus they cried out again ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate in anger said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.’ But the Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to that Law he must die, because he has made himself Son of God’ (John 19:4-7).

HE HAD NO DOUBT BEEN IMPRESSED WITH BY THE CALM AND DIGNIFIED BEHAVIOUR OF JESUS

Now Pilate, a Roman, was accustomed to the notion that the gods might have sons or daughters. Moreover, he had no doubt been impressed by the calm and dignified behaviour of Jesus, as contrasted with the turbulence and violence of the crowd. Hence, if only through superstition, he became afraid.

He went to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Whence art thou from?’

Pilate already knew that Jesus was from Galilee. His question, therefore, was not concerned with the geographical place of origin of Jesus. He was wondering whether or not Jesus might belong to the pantheon of gods in whom the Romans believed, or to the pantheon of one of the eastern nations of the world.

PILATE’S CONFIDENCE WAS SHAKEN

Jesus gave no answer. Then Pilate reminded Him that he had the power of life and death over Him. Jesus then replied, ‘Thou wouldst have no power at all over me were it not given thee from above. Therefore, he who betrayed me to thee has the greater sin’ (John 19:11).

IF YOU RELEASE HIM WE’LL REPORT YOU TO THE EMPEROR AND YOUR POLITICAL CAREER IS OVER

Pilate was still in doubt about the identity of Jesus. But his confidence was shaken and he wished to release Jesus. But the priests and the crowd put his own personal issue to him clearly. ‘If thou release this man,’ they said to Pilate, ‘thou art no friend of Caesar; for everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar’ (John 19:12).

PILATE BETRAYS HIS OWN PRINCIPLES

Pilate made one last effort. He brought Jesus before the crowd once again. Jesus stood before them, a man weak and bleeding, clad in a mock robe of royal purple, wearing a mock crown of thorns. Then Pilate said, ‘Behold your king!’ But the people, rather than accept so abject a figure as their king, cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked, ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ The priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’ (John 19:13-15).

Pilate’s Roman instinct for law lost the battle. His conscience was conquered. Before the threat to report him to Rome for negligence in dealing with possible enemies of the Emperor, Pilate betrayed his own principles. He delivered Jesus to the Jews to be crucified.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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