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Then the High Priest rent his garments, saying : He hath

blasphemed. What further need have we of witnesses ? Behold now you have heard the blasphemy. What think you ? (vv. 65, 66.). A. The High Priest rent his garments.

For, Caiphas, along with the rest, looks to Annas, and from his fierce countenance learns what he is to do and say. Alas! poor fallen, outcast priests, rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God, Who stands before you; for He is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth, but He will return and forgive ? (Joel ii.).

B. Observe how every step in this conspiracy is illegal.

The midnight trial is illegal. The haste is illegal. Those wise in Jewish law tell us that ample provision was made in that law for the protection of the prisoner. Here judges and counsellors are turned into accusers and perse. cutors and pursuivants and executioners. And now the High Priest rends his garments.

This too is, so some commentators think, a breach of the law.

The High Priest, that is to say, The Priest, the greatest among his brethren, upon whose head the oil of unction hath been poured, and whose hands have been consecrated for the priesthood, and who hath been invested with the holy vestments, shall not uncover his head (or) rend his garments (Levit. xxi.).1

C. The High Priest rent his garments.

Only three days ago Jesus meek and humble of Heart said to Caiphas and his colleagues Hypocrites, blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel ! This High Priest, this blind guide of the rest, is scandalised by the words of Jesus, and not shocked and terrified and confounded at the sight of his own iniquities.

1 Some interpreters, however, think that this prohibition only refers to the case of mourning for the dead, and does not apply when blasphemy is uttered.

“O compassionate Lord Jesus, hear the prayer of Thy Blessed Mother for us poor sinners, and say to our hearts with power and authority: Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (St. Luke xii.).

D. He hath blasphemed.

This word meant more in that hour than it does in our conversations now. For the law was stern. He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die : all the multitude shall stone him, whether he be a native or a stranger. He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die (Levit. xxiv.). These men who are setting all law at defiance, mean this law to be fulfilled to the letter, and are plotting far more, against their neighbour, Jesus of Nazareth.

With them, He hath blasphemed, means “He shall die”.

On a certain day in time past, Jesus had reminded them that they who are not innocent are not wise if they throw stones at the guilty. But they are now following the teaching of another master, whose constant effort it is to keep us all judging others and doing the things we judge, because he knows that God will never depart from that most just and necessary rule : With the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. Fudge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not be condemned (St. Luke vi.). Judgment without mercy to him who hath not done mercy (St. James ii.).

“O Ever-Blessed Mother of mercy, pray for us sinners, that if we sin we may have, at least, grace not to judge and condemn others for doing what we do ourselves.”



What think you ? But they answering, said, He is guilty

of death (v. 66). A. What think you ?

Hear this murderous question put to each of these unhappy men; murderous, a thousand times more, to their souls than to the Body of Jesus. Observe the fierce eye of Annas, how he watches that no one shall escape without answering. For he is one who will not enter himself the Kingdom of God, and is bent on not suffering others to enter. That which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.

Listen, as the question is put officially to each one: What think you ? Let us mark with sorrow how, at the voice of a man lower and more degraded than themselves, these children of God, these Priests and Scribes and Ancient men fling away all strength, all courage, all sense of right; trample on the good seed but now cast into their souls; and, while recording angels write down in sadness, utter, with suicidal tongues, their own doom: He is guilty of death. Yes, each of them, one by one, pronounces the official sentence: He is guilty of death ; and this official sentence is their own sentence. He hath blasphemed : He is guilty of death.

B. He is guilty of death.

This sentence is welcome to the unseen spirits of wickedness. For as yet they know not that they are in conflict with God made Man. St. Paul calls the mystery of man's redemption worked out by the Incarnation, the wisdom of God in a mystery. A wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before the world unto our glory : which none of the princes of this world knew : for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. ii.). By the princes of this world commentators understand him to mean not only the Jewish Rulers, and Pilate and Herod ; but the unseen rulers of the world of this darkness. When Satan said to Him on the pinnacle of the Temple : If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down, he was conjecturing and trying to make out what degree of sanctity was in the Soul of Jesus. He used the word “Son of God” in the sense afterwards adopted by his disciple, the archheretic Arius; but he does not yet understand that Jesus is God made Man, otherwise he never would have tried to compass His Death. Some holy writers are of opinion that as the

Sacred Passion goes on, the spirits of darkness begin to suspect that He is more than man, and therefore begin to wish much to prevent His Death by inducing Him to descend from the Cross. At present they think Him to be only a man; and that by killing Him they will stop the work He is doing. They are aware of what our Lord said three days ago that unless the days of persecution were shortened, no flesh should be saved. Therefore, by persecuting Jesus and killing Him, they hope much to check the work of salvation.

C. He is guilty of death.

After this, Sursum corda! we must lift our thoughts much higher and hear in the councils of the Eternal Father the sentence of death ratified against Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, the Son of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, Who has taken on Himself the sins of the world, and therefore has chosen to be guilty of death. Glory be to the Father, Who so loved the world as to give His only. begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting (St. John iii.).

D. He is guilty of death.

And then in His own most Holy Soul, our Blessed Saviour Himself, as He hears voice after voice repeat the sentence: He is guilty of death : with infinite love, ratifies it.

He says a word akin to that which He on the morrow will put into the heart of His crucified companion on Calvary: We are receiving the just reward of our deeds. I have chosen to become sin for My brethren, for My fallen family. The Father has laid upon Me the iniquities of them all. Upon Me let all this iniquity be. Let Me die, and lay down My life that I may see the promised long-lived seed, that I may gather together in one the children of God that were dispersed. Let Me be lifted up from the earth that I may draw all things to Myself.

E. And there is also a true sense in which we too may join in the verdict, and say that the Lamb of God deserves to die, and the Ever-Blessed Mother deserves to see Him die. For who but the sinless are really worthy to die and to suffer for sinners ? Out of His infinite charity He shares His privilege and His glory with His martyrs. He allows them to drink the chalice with Him; to suffer and to be slain. They die indeed for His sake, for the sake of their own good God; but Jesus dies for the sake of the ungrateful sinner. Who but the Holy of Holies is worthy to die

. such a death of love? Who but His Immaculate Mother is worthy to be standing by, pierced with the sword of sorrow while she looks on such a death of love ?

Hail, full of grace, blessed art thou amongst women : and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Blessed is He Who is worthy to lay down His life for us sinners. Blessed art thou who art worthy to be the Mother of the Crucified.”


Then did they spit in His face (v. 67). A. Some writers who have made a study of Jewish law, and of the Talmud, and of the ancient customs of the Jews, tell us that it was the usual practice for the judges to rise from their seats and spit in the face of the condemned criminal; and they are of opinion that this savage usage was rigorously enforced now. The Priests, then, and the Ancients and Scribes, before they retire set an example to the vervants whom they are leaving in charge, and give vent to their hatred and scorn and envy and malice, by covering His sacred face with their phlegm. They answering, said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit upon Him.

Some commentators think that we may accept this narrative as it stands, and assume that His judges sentenced Him, and immediately began to spit upon Him.

I have not turned away My face from them that rebuked Me and spit upon Me (Isaias l.). O God, our Protector, look on the Face of Thy Christ.

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