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“O Blessed Mother, turn thine eyes of mercy towards us and show us the sacred Face of thy Son Jesus.”
B. Then for a brief space before separating, they confer together : “You must be weary,” they say one to another: “we have had a long day of work and a hard day”. So are they saying still in the everlasting prison-house if before death their hearts were not contrite. Yes. We walked through hard ways during those miserable days; and we wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity.
Now meanwhile they must have some repose--but short.
The word of Annas is again repeated : That which is feeble is found to be nothing worth. Let our strength be the law of justice.
“There must be no wavering: no time lost. MessenSers must at once during the night summon all the absent members of the Great Council, those only excepted who cannot be relied upon. All must be in their place with the daybreak. Witnesses we do not want. There is not one amongst them fit to appear before the Roman. But if he sees that we are agreed, and resolved, and bent upon it, he will not dare to oppose us, he will let our strength be the law of justice. Jesus of Nazareth will be crucified before the people are awake, AND THEN WE CAN HAVE OUR FESTIVAL DAY IN PEACE.” Even so, Zares, wife of Aman the great chancellor, and the rest of his friends, counselled him : Order a great beam to be prepared : and in the morning speak to the king that Mardochai may be hanged upon it, AND SO THOU SHALT GO FULL OF JOY WITH THE KING TO THE BANQUET. The counsel pleased him, and he ordered a big gibbet to be prepared (Esther v.). Severe and stern orders are given to the servants and the guards to watch their Prisoner carefully. It will be an evil night for them if He escapes, and so the Priests and Ancients retire; bidding each other good night! “ So far we have succeeded! Fare. well.” Some writers, however, are of opinion that some of them remain for a time to take part in the orgies of the servants.
C. “ Attendite." We may stay yet a little while to store up a lesson for ourselves. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour is a commandment, made much more sacred in our Lord's new law of charity. As we contemplate in this judgment-hall, the precept ought to grow most dear to us. Recogitabo tibi, Domine, annos meos."
"I will recount to Thee, Lord Jesus, my years gone by, to deplore the miserable hours when I bore false witness, or encouraged others to bear false witness against the absent.” For now I know that if I do it against one of His least brethren, my Saviour will class me with those who brought false witness against Himself. That lex talionis, the law of reprisals: a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eyemis not abolished in Christ's Gospel, but perfected; enforced in a much more rigorous way. If I do harm to the absent by false witness, or detraction, that harm will all come down on me, heaped up, pressed down, and flowing over. If I encourage a tale-bearer to malign the absent, I become at once partner in his sin, and in the curse that rests upon his sin.
And here let us not forget, that though he who calumniates me behind my back sins and is guilty; yet it is not he who does me the greatest injury, but the tale-bearer who comes to tell me what my neighbour has said against
It is he who scandalises me, that is, gives occasion to my sin and stirs up revenge within me by telling me of the wrong done me. The whisperer and the double-tongued is accursed. THE TONGUE OF A THIRD PERSON has disquieted many. It hath destroyed the strong cities of the rich. He that hearkeneth to it shall never have rest, neither shall he have a friend in whom he may repose. The stroke of a whip maketh a blue mark; but the stroke of a tongue will break the bones (Ecclus. xxviii.). We must not forget this word.
. IT IS THE TONGUE OF A THIRD PERSON, who comes to bring tales to me, that does the evil. D. As the judges retire, the Heart of our Lord and
the heart of His Holy Mother, ever joined to His, are praying for them. For it was out of the abundance of His Heart that His mouth spoke that lesson: Pray for those who calumniate you.
They opened their mouth wide against Me; they said, Well done, well done! our eyes have seen it. Let them not say in their hearts : It is well, it is well, to our mind. Neither let them say, We have swallowed Him up. Let them blush and be ashamed together who rejoice at My evils (Psalm xxxiv.).
With infinite compassion our Saviour prays, for their sakes, that they may not exult in their sin.
THE COURT BELOW. ST. PETER
Already we have seen something of the plan of the Priests' Palace and the arrangement of the buildings. A few words more may be useful.
Those who are learned in Jewish architecture explain for us the Gospel text by the knowledge which they have derived from other sources.
1. Coming from Gethsemani, those leading Jesus arrive first at the gateway where the portress is.
2. They enter into a covered hall; the outward hall or vestibule, in which is the porter's lodge. In our English version, this outward hall is spoken of as before the court (St. Mark xiv.). A more literal translation from the Greek would be: He went forth into the outward hall (eis tò mpoaúluov). Our English version is a literal translation from the Latin-(exivit foras ante atrium).
3. Passing on from the covered hall, they find themselves in the open courtyard (in atrio, év tñ aŭly) (St. Mark xiv.). This court, we are told, was ordinarily surrounded by a covered colon. nade.
4. From this court a flight of steps leads to the judgment. hall of the High Priest.
This we gather from St. Mark xiv. 64: When Peter stood in the court below.
5. A question arises, Where was the fire lighted ? Our English version of St. Luke's Gospel has the words, in the hall. In St. Mark's Gospel, we read that he was warming himself in the court below. In St. Matthew, Peter sat without in the court. Was the fire, then, in the covered hall or in the open court ? The Latin and Greek text settle this question, for we find that where our version has "he word hall, and also where our version has the word court, the Latin in both places has atrium and the Greek aukń. Therefore our English version, St. Luke xxii. 55: Where they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, would, it seems, be more correct if it were, in the centre of the courtyard.
Here we must go back to the early part of this third watch of the night, which is now coming to a close, namely to the time when the armed multitude have left Gethsemani and are dragging our Saviour up the steep hill.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple
(St. John xviii.). But Peter followed afar off (St. Luke xxii.). A. Let us fix our thoughts on Simon Peter. His heart has become very sad, when he finds that he has fled from his Master in His hour of danger and sorrow. More than all the rest, he professed fidelity unto death.
He stops in his flight. He cannot bear to go further. He must return and see what happens to his Master, for Whom he has a true love. From the revelations made to holy persons, we gather that the thought too of abandoning the Blessed Virgin in this time of great danger added greatly to the distress of the Apostle. Perhaps, also, his impetuous spirit is reviving somewhat, and he is upbraiding himself for not having used his sword more perseveringly.
B. Peter followed afar off.
His courage, however, is much abated by the sudden scare that moved them all to take to flight.
He does not venture to do more than follow afar off. For him who aimed a death-blow at the High Priest's servant there will be no mercy if he is recognised and made prisoner.
Time was when he could not bear to be far from his Master. Lord, bid me come to Thee upon the waters, he said in his impatience to be with Jesus. All that eager love will return again. But in this hour he is not inclined to draw too near: he followed afar off.
C. Peter followed afar off.
The words suggest a thought to spiritual writers, that it is better in every way to follow Christ closely, than to keep afar off. Our cowardly nature tells us that it is easier to meditate for a few minutes than for an hour. But experience proves (1) that as flies keep away from a cauldron that is hot, but draw near when it cools; so the devil keeps away from the fervent who resist him, and molests perpetually those who are lukewarm. Then (2) that our Blessed Saviour delights in being generous to those who are generous to Him, whilst with the niggardly He will be niggardly: With the holy Thou wilt be holy; with the perverse Thou wilt be perverted (Psalm xvii.).
But if God holds His hand, and helps but sparingly, spiritual life becomes dreary indeed; and a temptation easily prevails. Our Saviour said last week at Jericho, that from him who has little grace that little will be quickly
And so did another disciple.
St. John alone mentions this other disciple. Students naturally ask, “Who is he?". A very common opinion is, that St. John does not wish to give his own name, but that he was the companion of St. Peter; and that he was known to the High Priest, either because, as some say, he had sold to Caiphas a plot of land that was near Tiberias; or, as others think, because, as a fisherman, he had supplied the Priest's house with fish.
Other commentators think it very unlikely that a poor fisherman of Galilee was known to the High Priest. They prefer to think that the disciple known to the High Priest must have been Nicodemus, or Joseph of Arimathea, or some one else of a higher station.
Two reasons occur that cast a doubt on his being St. John: (1) when he speaks of himself in the narration of the Supper, he calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved. Would he not have used the same title here? (2) If it was St. John, would he not have remained with Peter in the court below? There is no trace of his presence there.
Still we find it taken for granted in the revelations recorded by holy persons that it was St. John.