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And they brought Jesus to the High Friest; and all the

Priests and the Ancients and Scribes assembled together (St. Mark xiv. 53). A. All the Priests and the Ancients and the Scribes.

According to the opinion of judicious commentators the members of the Great Council of the Sanhedrim who were known to be favourable to Jesus, such as Nicodemus, Joseph, and Gamaliel, had not been summoned to this midnight Council. Still so many are present that the Evangelist writes: All the Priests and Ancients and the Scribes assemble.

We may, however, observe that St. Matthew and St. Mark are the only Evangelists who record the transactions of the court held at midnight; and that these two Evangelists, on the other hand, do not give the details of the second sitting held early in the morning, which are recorded only by St. Luke.

St. Matthew, therefore, and St. Mark may perhaps be considered to be speaking inclusively of both sittings when they say that all were present. The common opinion of students seems to be that at the morning council there is a fuller gathering of the Sanhedrim ; and that at the first sitting only the more active and bitter enemies of Jesus are present.

St. John, after recording that Annas sent Jesus to Caiphas, says nothing more of the nocturnal proceedings against our Lord in the court of Caiphas.

B. All the Priests and the Ancients and the Scribes.

“Alas !” exclaimed our dying Cardinal, eminent in Church and State, “ had I but served my God as I have served my King!” These Jewish Rulers have been working hard for several days in this warfare against Jesus; but

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they are ready still to give up their night's rest. When all is over to-morrow night their wives and daughters will compassionate them, and offer them refreshing cordials after so much hard labour. The Holy Spirit tells us that, if they die impenitent, they will spend their eternity making this moan: We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction, and have walked through hard ways. What Bith pride profited us ? (Wisdom v.). We fools ! The serpent deceived me.

“Mother of God, thou art wakeful and watching tonight with thy Divine Son. Pray for us poor sinners, that we may begin to toil and watch for His sake as willingly as His enemies work and watch to harm Him."

C. All the Priests and the Ancients and the Scribes.

Thanks be to the Passion and Death of Christ, all things have been made new. Countless men and women have had the grace to work and watch for Christ's sake,

as His enemies do against Him. His word is fulfilled : In the day-time the Lord hath commanded His mercy; and a canticle to Him in the night (Psalm xli.). By day they work for His poor and for sinners; and at night, gathered round the altar of the Hidden God, they sing the praises of our God Who created us, our God Who redeemed

the Holy Ghost Who sanctifies us.

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” In the day-time His mercy, and a canticle to Him in the night.




And the Chief Priests and the whole Council sought false

witness against Jesus that they might put Him to death (St. Matt, xxvi. 59).

A. While some have been arranging the airest of Jesus, others have been running about to find false witnesses to depose against Him. With promises and bribes and threats they have laboured hard to get evidence ready for this midnight arraignment. The Scribes and Priests are experts in the law. They know that no man that is to be slain shall die but by the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. xvii.). One will not suffice. Therefore they have most actively and diligently sought throughout the city for witnesses.

B. They sought false witnesses.

Heresy is a Greek word that means “picking out”. A heretic picks out of the Gospel so much as pleases him, and disregards the rest. Oftentimes we are in our practice heretical. Our Blessed Saviour, three days ago, strongly inveighed against the Priests and Ancients: Wo to you, hypocrites, because you tithe mint and anice and cummin, and have left the weighter things of the law. They must have witnesses, this the law prescribes; and the proceedings are to be judicial. Annas was out of order in his unprofessional questions, but this is to be an official act of the Council. There must be legality. There must be witSo much they pick out from the law.

But they turn their back upon the command: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. They ignore the precept: Thou shalt not receive the voice of a lie (Exodus xxiii.). They forget entirely what is written: If a lying witness stand against a man accusing him of transgressionswhen after most diligent inquisition they shall find that the false witness hath told a lie against his brother, they shall render to him as he meant to do to his brother. Thou shalt not pity him, but shalt require life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Deut. xix.). If they accepted and venerated the whole law, they would know that they themselves and their suborned witnesses ought, for this night's work, to be crucified, because they are using false witnesses to bring about the death of Jesus by crucifixion. Heresy that picks out one truth, and leaves aside many, is the arch-enemy of truth; and virtue that rigidly enforces a minor precept and sets at nought the great commandments of God's law, is vicious hypocrisy.


C. The Chief Priests sought false witnesses.

Oh, how is the gold become dim, the finest colour is changed ! (Lament. iv.).

In the days of Moses it was prescribed : whenever there is a hard and doubtful matter in judgment, and thou see the words of the judges vary, thou shalt come to the Priests and thou shalt ask of them, and they shall show thee the truth of the judgment, and thou shalt do whatsoever they shall


that preside in the place that the Lord shall choose, neither shalt thou decline to the right hand nor to the left (Deut. xvii.).

The judgment of the Priest is to be so truthful that you must not decline from it to the right hand nor to the left. And now all the Priests are seeking false witnesses. This is one proof among many that their knell has


The time foretold by Malachy is come. The Lord is saying to the Priests of the Levitical order: I have no pleasure in you. It was during the first watch of this night that the Lord of glory-now a prisoner-established the new Priesthood according to the order of Melchisedech. These High Priests are His no more. I will not receive a gift from your hands. This is to you, O Priests, who despise My name (Malach. i.).

“ Blessed Mother of God, pray for the Church of thy Son, committed to thy guardianship, that His Priests may be clothed with justice and may not betray truth!”


The Chief Priests sought false witnesses against Jesus, but

they found not, whereas many false witnesses had come in. For many bore false witness against Him, and their evidence was not agreeing (St. Matt. xxvi.; St. Mark xiv.).

A. Many false witnesses had come in, and their evidence was not agreeing.

Though the night is far spent, yet the Priests and Ancients have worked so earnestly that they have got together many witnesses.

One zealous Ancient has brought in a witness to swear that Jesus forbade the people to pay tribute to Cæsar. Another has found men ready to prove that He was stirring the people to sedition.

Several of the Scribes and Priests have come across witnesses who can render signal service, because they can bring forward very strong cases in which Jesus set at nought the Law of Moses. He violated the Sabbath grossly. He would not allow the adulteress to be punished. He consorted with scandalous sinners. And whereas the Law enjoins : With all thy heart fear the Lord and reverence His Priests, Jesus of Nazareth has habitually, before the people, reviled the Priests and brought them into contempt. Nay, worse than this, He has sought to seduce the people by working false miracles through the power of Beelzebub.

We must look with our eyes and listen with our ears, while these witnesses come forth one by one and are interrogated. The Scribes and Ancients and Priests have schooled them all and taught them what they are to say, and promised them good pay if they do well; and are now listening in nervous anxiety, and intruding leading questions in the hope of reconciling conflicting statements. Eagerly they watch every witness. But unless the Lord build the house, in vain have they laboured who have built it. It is the Tower of Babel over again. The Lord said : It is one people, and all have one tongue, and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs till they accomplish them : therefore their language was confounded (Genesis xi.).

Their evidence was not agreeing. One witness refutes the other. " Attendite." We must not pass away hastily from this scene of confusion and failure. Once more we learn this lesson: There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord.The desire of the wicked shall perish.

B. Many bore false witness against Him.

The dark hours are passing quickly away, and these wise men are saying once more to each other: Do you see that

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