Ann Barnhardt ponders how she would have behaved if she had been present in the crowd that bayed for the death of Jesus.
Something that has lingered in my mind since I was a child was this question: Had you (Ann) been alive when Our Lord walked the earth, had you (Ann) been one of the Women of Jerusalem, WOULD YOU (ANN) HAVE RECOGNIZED OUR LORD, or would you (Ann) have gone along with the Sanhedrin and the people and condemned Our Lord as just another paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of divinity?
Folks, the answer to that question makes me tremble. TREMBLE. This has gnawed at me since WAY before Antipope Bergoglio, and WAY before even entering the Church.
For myself I don’t find this question that interesting, let alone terrifying as Ann does. I have always been a contrarian with a very healthy dose of skepticism and disdain of authority, as well as a deep dislike of crowds and their analogous behavior. I am fairly confident that I would have tried to do my own homework and understand what was really going on.
No, being a member of that crowd would not cause me to tremble. But if you asked me how I would have fared if I were Pontius Pilate, that question would indeed cause me to tremble a great deal.
Pilate is one of the main Bible figures that I struggle with, not least because of the attitude of the Catholic Church towards him. The Orthodox Church venerates both Pilate and his wife whom they consider to be a saint. But for us Catholics Pilate is a real baddie. If you pray the Rosary, (and I sincerely hope that you do), then you’re reminded about this from the outset with the recital of the Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Not many people are mentioned in that prayer, but Pilate sure gets a big shout out. But Pilate didn’t cause Jesus to suffer; rather he was an unwilling agent stuck between a rock and a hard place when the Jewish priests demanded his death. This scene is well presented in the famous scene from The Passion of Christ.
Pilate and his prelates and other soldiers are fully aware that they could have a full blown rebellion on their hands if they don’t handle this properly. In the end Pilate washes his hands of the whole affair and declares to the Jews that the blood of Jesus is upon them.
So what would any of us have done in his place? I struggle to understand if I would have acted as well as Pilate did in those circumstances. But in the end Pilate chose to watch from the sidelines and let events play out. Today the pharisees are still baying for the blood of Jesus, but I am not one of them. Yet I am certainly a Gentile, as was Pilate. Are we still standing on the sidelines today?
These thoughts give me pause.