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lessons of the Gospel of Christ. When, through the virtue that comes out from Christ, a martyr is able to say on behalf of those who are stoning him, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, this miracle worked by the grace of Jesus Christ brings forcibly home to us what St. Paul calls the supereminent greatness of His power towards us (Ephes. i.).
Again and again we must say with unshaken hope: Passio Christi, conforta me—“ Crucified Jesus, strengthen me”.
E. One of the servants gave Jesus a blow.
While contemplating this heavy blow, is it not the time to pray earnestly for an increase of devotion to the sacred Face of Jesus ?
What a powerful prayer we have in the words of the Psalmist : 0 God, our Protector, look down upon us, and on the Face of Thy Christ (Psalm lxxxiii.).
And how earnestly the Ever-Blessed Mother responds to us : “ O my child, look thou also on the Face of thy Christ, thy Jesus, thy Brother, thy Surety, thy Lord and thy God. Look on His bruised Face, for in His bruises thou art healed.”
F. One of the servants gave Jesus a blow.
As this is done by a servant in the presence of his master, unless the High Priest rebukes with condign
, severity the lawless outrage, he becomes by guilty silence a partner in the sin. As men are so prone to be slavish in presence of those in power, masters can oftentimes, if they will, easily repress evil. The king that sitteth on the throne of judgment, scattereth away all evil by his look (Prov. xx.). But Annas utters not one word of reproof. This servant is to him a friend in need. He has stepped in at the moment when his master is put to the blush, and covered with confusion by the wise answer of Jesus.
Let us learn a lesson. To save his master from confusion, this slave commits a great crime. The disciples of Jesus have often been so strengthened that they have courageously screened their neighbour from confusion and
danger, by bringing chastisement on themselves. Our proto-martyr, St. Alban, put on the dress of the one sentenced to death, and died a martyr in his place. Even before he had seen the Sacred Passion, the blind man restored to sight brought great trouble on himself by speaking a courageous word on behalf of Jesus. Alas! have I ever, on the contrary, brought confusion and pain most unjustly to others, by screening myself and denying my own guilt ?
G. One of the servants gave Jesus a blow.
Let us watch with our eyes and mark how Jesus is first struck down, and then beaten because He falls, and dragged by the hair of His Head to His feet again.
The anger of man worketh not the justice of God (St. James i.).
Even so, at times, a timid child is corrected with so much anger and severity that fear brings a lie of excuse to its lips, and then the severity and chastisement is doubled and trebled because the terrified child has told a lie.
STATION V. Fesus answered him : If I have spoken evil, give testimony
of the evil : but if well, why strikest thou Me? (v. 23).
A. The Heart of our Saviour has compassion on these enslaved and blinded servants, who worship their blind guides on earth, and have no fear or worship for their God.
By His calm and fearless fortitude, He is saying to them: “ Sursum corda ”-Fear not, ye children of God, your earthly masters.
Fear not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in Hell (St. Matt. x.).
All through the Sacred Passion, He is teaching by word, by work, by suffering. He is the Priest teaching, as well as the Victim suffering.
The firm and reasonable answer of our Saviour has produced the desired effect. Annas has no longer any wish to waste the precious moments by asking his clever questions. He has been publicly disgraced; and the gross illegal outrage committed against Jesus will not help to restore his prestige as a master in Israel. He is glad to escape from his position, and to throw the heavy burden and difficult task on another. For what task can be so difficult or what burden so heavy, as the hopeless task of finding guilt in Him in Whom there is no sin, and Who taketh away the sins of the world ?
“ Take Him to the High Priest,” he says hurriedly, the case does not concern me. I am not the judge. Away with Him! make haste! do it quickly.” B. Our Blessed Lady says meekly to us,
If my Son Jesus has spoken evil to thee, or done evil to thee, give testimony of the evil. But if He has spoken well and done well to thee, why strikest thou Him?”
FROM ANNAS TO CAIPHAS.
And Annas sent Him bound to Caiphas the High Priest
(St. John xviii. 24). A. It is probably about an hour after midnight when Annas gives this order. “ Attendite.” With our eyes let us look at our Saviour standing, dumb as a lamb before his shearer, while they quickly make fast every rope, every cord, every chain, and every fetter. We must try to measure the pain and torment caused by every fresh knot made, and every tightening of the cords. We must notice His swollen and livid face, bruised by the heavy blow. He goes out in a worse plight than when He came in, and more the Man of Sorrows. The prophetic word is being already very much verified, the whole head sick, the whole heart sad.
" Our Father Who art in Heaven, look on the Face of Thy Christ. Look on all His wounds and forgive us our sins. Mother of God, look on the Face of thy Christ and pray for us sinners.”
To Caiphas the High Priest.
There are, as we have seen, many High Priests or Chief Priests. Caiphas, no doubt, has a pre-eminence, but they are all styled Pontifices and Principes Sacerdotum, as much as Joseph Caiphas is. This being so, would our version be more correct, if it were written, to the High Priest Caiphas or to High Priest Caiphas ? When there are many captains, we do not say to Titus the Captain, but to Captain Titus, Captain Caius. It may be argued, however, that, as Caiphas is the High Priest of this year, he has a right to a special title: Caiphas the High Priest. Otherwise the correct form would appear to be: High Priest Caiphas: High Priest Annas. This is noted on account of the opinion of those who contend, that the High Priest who questioned Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine must have been Caiphas.
B. Annas sent Him bound to Caiphas the High Priest.
The journey this time is short, through the grounds, as we are supposing, within the enclosure. Probably the way lies through the outer court, where the servants are assembled, and where by this time Peter has perhaps arrived. From this court Jesus is dragged up the steps that lead to the central hall, for the court is below, as St. Mark tells
Here, in the judgment-hall, Caiphas and a certain number of the Sanhedrim are impatiently waiting.
Short as the journey is, we may be sure, while contemplating, that the sufferings of Jesus are neither few nor light. Their aim is to lead Him hurriedly and carefully. Strong men are holding the two chains attached to the collar round His neck. Strong men, too, are holding the chains or ropes round His waist. Some writers think that, according to custom, each leg or arm is chained to a slave or a soldier, to render security more secure. The Rulers have devised vain things, precautions most useless.
“Not out of necessity, O Lord our Saviour, art Thou going to judgment, but solely because Thou willest by Thy bands to break our chains."
Daniel speaks of our Lord as Christum Ducem. Thou ever, Lord Jesus, our leader! May we never be blind guides leading our blind selves. May we never give ourselves up as slaves to be led by wicked men."
C. Annas sent Him bound to Caiphas.
Is Judas still leading and guiding? Our enlightened masters think not. His little hour of importance has come to an end. It is thought that he has stayed behind to wring his poor pay from the unwilling grasp of Annas. One strong reason for this conjecture is that the presence of Judas in the courtyard with the servants cannot well be reconciled with all that is narrated of St. Peter. Judas would at once have convicted him.
The unhappy traitor is then arguing, and entreating, and enforcing his claims to larger pay; describing all the dangers he has run; insinuating that all is not safe yet; that his services may still be wanted. But in vain ! Once more, the desire of the wicked shall perish.
Annas slowly and grudgingly counts the pieces one by one; and Judas puts them one by one into the scrip whence he has so often stolen the pittance of the poor. When, therefore, he finds that there is no hope whatever of extracting one piece more from him who is his match in covetousness and wickedness, he begins to feel that his summer is ended. The traitor's office and importance is no
And as he goes out into a lonely place to count once more his gains, and to look again at the price of blood, the word of the Psalm comes true: The wicked shall see and shall be angry, he shall gnash with his teeth and pine away (Psalm cxi.).
O Judas! What have you lost? What have you gained ?
D. “Mother of God, turn thine eyes of mercy towards us, and show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, that we may not betray Him and sell Him for a vile recompense.”