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We may contemplate the unholy activity and promptness of these unhappy Councillors, who are inet together against the Lord and against His Christ.
If they are willing, after their labours of yesterday and their night watching, to cut short their sleep in the early morning in order to persecute Jesus, how grateful will He be to us if we deny ourselves, and rise betimes to do Him a most welcome honour by assisting at the Holy Mass, in which His Sacred Passion is renewed; a most welcome honour, because it gives Him the plea He desires for filling us with benediction.
D. As soon as it was day.
When we meet in the early hours, we say to each other: Good-morning! Good-day! How unreal and worthless these greetings sometimes are! For they cannot bring a blessing on an unblessed day. If these evil Councillors salute each other with such good wishes for the day, we have a melancholy specimen of the mockery that can be enacted by lying tongues.
The Chief Priests and the Scribes came together and they
brought Him into the Council (St. Luke xxii. 66). A. They brought Him into the Council.
These words agree well with what the holy Abbess in her narrative of the Passion records, that those who had seen Jesus the night before in His dungeon, are anxious that all should now see to what a plight their arch-enemy, the great Prophet so dreaded, has by a little firmness and boldness been reduced. They all therefore go down in a body to the underground prison, to bring Him from thence. When the bars are drawn and the gate opened, at the first sight of the Man without help, bowed down and miserable,
so haggard and so disfigured, and so wasted away, they are taken aback and scared; and cannot believe that illusage has made such a change. But after a while, when assured that this is really Jesus of Nazareth, Who was so bold, so arrogant, so defiant three days ago, they break out into uncontrolled derision,
“ Samson broke his bonds. Jesus does not seem to be a Samson.
“ He fed five thousand with loaves; He would have been glad, we imagine, of one loaf during this night.
“He hoped in the Lord. Let Him deliver Him, and we will believe.
“He is the Son of God. Let Him save Him, seeing He delighteth in Him."
All they that saw Me have laughed Me to scorn; they have spoken with the lips and wagged the head (Psalm xxi.).
“ This spectacle here before our eyes is, beyond all doubt, proof convincing that He is an impostor and seducer. Make haste, bring Him to judgment. Do it quickly. Lead Him carefully."
Yet some of these miserable men were doubtless present when Jesus said to the man with the withered hand : Stretch forth thy hand, and he stretched it forth, and it was restored to health even as the other (St. Matt. xii.). To the hearts of these men His Heart is now saying: Is My hand shortened that I cannot redeem ? or is there no strength in Me to deliver? (Isaias l.). But now (these things) are hidden from thy eyes (St. Luke xix.).
B. The Priests with the whole Council.
Meanwhile our Blessed Lady sees all and hears all. But the Sacred Heart of her Son is speaking a word of comfort to her and reminding her of the prophetic promise Because His Soul hath laboured, He shall see and be filled. The Lord was pleased to bruise Him in infirmity. Not for ever shall He remain bowed down and miserable. The will of the Lord shall be prosperous in His hand (Isaias liji.).
Though these unhappy Rulers are scoffing now at the sight of His misery, yet the memory of this misery will draw many hearts to Him.
I have spoken to you, God said of old, I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, and you have not obeyed Me (Jerem. xxxv.). But in the days that are to come, hallowed by the Passion of Jesus, He will speak early in the morning, bent down to the pillar in the dungeon, and many, very many, will hear, and rise in haste to come to Him.
Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth (1 Kings iii.).
All the Chief Priests and Ancients of the people took counsel
against Jesus, that they inight put Him to death (St. Matt. xxvii. 1).
A. They hasten back to the judgment-hall. Jesus is let loose from the pillar, but is still tightly bound, and with His chains upon Him. In this condition He is dragged quickly up the steps and through the courtyard into the presence of His judges. For so they command: Make haste and lead Him carefully.
His own Divine heart is also saying: Do it quickly. With desire I have desired the dawn of this Pasch; this first Good Friday. B. Were the Prophet Daniel here he would now lift up
his voice as he did when Susanna had been sentenced and was being led to death : Standing in the midst of them he said: Are you so foolish, ye children of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth, you have condemned a daughter if Israel? Return to judgment, for they have borne false witness against her (Dan. xiii.). Oh, with what heavenly earnestness would he call upon these morning judges to reverse and undo the wickedness of the night: Return to judgment, for they have borne false witness against Jesus of Nazareth.
But, alas! the judges of the night are now again the judges in the morning, and they are only here to ratify their sin, and spread their iniquity to others.
They took counsel against Jesus, that they might put Him to death.
O ye kings, understand : receive instruction, ye that judge the earth (Psalm ii.).
Station II. They brought Him into the Council, saying: If Thou be
Christ, tell us (St. Luke xxii. 66). A. This is supposed to be the legal trial. The judges are now here lawfully assembled to try their Prisoner. But, we notice, no witness is called now. Not a word is said about forbidding tribute, or disturbing the people, or pulling down the Temple. All this trifling is discarded ; and the one question about which they are really in earnest is put at once, Art Thou the Christ?
This is precisely what has been arranged in Heaven This question well pleases the Heart of our Lord. This question gives contentment to the soul of His Ever-Blessed Mother. The listening angels, also, are glad to hear this question solemnly put. Let us, too, join heartily and say with her and with them: Tu rex gloriæ, Christe. Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius. The spirits of darkness alone are not content.
It gives them no pleasure that this is the only sin found in Jesus.
B. Art Thou the Christ?
We may kneel humbly before the altar, and when the Sacred Host is elevated, ask most reverently: Art Thou the Christ, Lord ? Oh yes, I believe, help my unbelief.
ask it of the poor man who begs. For most solemnly does our Lord Jesus say to us that, whether we say “Yes” or “No” to His poor delegate, we say it to Him.
“O my most merciful Lord Jesus, how shall I endure it if at the Judgment Thou shalt say to me, I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat ? "
D. Art Thou the Clirist ?
Put the question, again, to him who has wronged us, and been an enemy :
66 Art thou the Christ? For if so, if the Lord identifies Himself with you, and says that if I touch you I touch the apple of His eye, oh, go in peace! for I have no quarrel with you. If you wronged me, you did not know what you were doing. May the Lord forgive you fully, and bless you!”
E. Art Thou the Christ?
Ask it of His Vicar? “ Art thou His representative? As His Father sent Him, has He sent you? Is His Holy Spirit giving testimony with you and through you ?” If so, I believe; () my Lord, help my unbelief.
STATION III. And He saith to them: If I shall tell you, you will not be
lieve Me. And if I shall also ask you, you will not answer Me nor let Me go (vv. 67, 68).
A. Not one of these blinded men is so blind as not to see, that never man spoke in their presence as this Man speaks. The Man whom they just now saw bowed down and miserable, and acquainted with infirmity, He stands erect- - inter mortuos liber” (Psalm lxxxvii.); the only one free in presence of so many dead men, dead with the death of the soul-free among the dead, and speaking as one that hath authority over all His judges.
B. You will not let Me go.
And we must notice how ineek His words are; how they all come from the abundance of His charitable Heart, desirous to soften their hearts of stone; desirous to move these unjust judges to reason calmly and judge justly. C. You will not let Me
go. He wishes to bring home to them that no matter what