Sunday, March 02, 2008

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death

You are a fool, Jesus of Nazareth. You stand before me and you say nothing. I could save you if only you would say something in your defence, but you have not opened your mouth. You are silent, almost like a lamb before it is slaughtered. I have the power to save you, and yet, when I challenged you, you merely replied that my power is delegated to me from on high, from the one who truly wields authority. That is true. It was Caesar who sent me here, but I have a feeling that your words held a deeper meaning than I could fathom. Even Caesar holds his power as a gift from Jupiter, so what are you really saying?

You are a fool. You spoke of a kingdom and when I asked you to explain, you signed and sealed your own death warrant because you said that you are a king, even if your kingdom is not of this world. Only an idiot would have made such a declaration. Caesar cannot allow a king to live in Israel. You have spent your days wandering through Galilee and Judaea with a band of fishermen. You are known as a carpenter. How can you be a king? Yet how can I explain your dignity and almost a regal bearing, even though I have had you chastised?

You are a fool, Jesus of Nazareth. You have been scourged. Your blood drips in pools around your bare feet and yet you still speak of your kingdom. It does not make sense. You speak of truth, but what is truth? Does not truth change according to the circumstances? Is my truth the same as Caesar’s? Is the truth of a Jew the same as that of a Roman?

I know that you are here because of the jealousy of your own people. They are trying to put the responsibility of your death (for, yes, you will die) upon my shoulders. You are not giving me the opportunity to put the blame back where it belongs. I can see that you have committed no crime worthy of the crucifixion to which I must condemn you if you continue in this silent stubbornness. Yet you are saying nothing in your own defence, nothing that would give me the excuse to liberate you from the agonising end that is waiting for you. Anybody else would be begging, clutching at straws, searching for any excuse that might save them from the pain and the shame of the cross. Why, then, are you so convinced of your own kingship that you are prepared to die such a death? I cannot understand.

You are a fool, Jesus of Nazareth. Your own words gave the soldiers the idea of making you a crown and of giving you a sceptre. But what king will choose a crown of thorns? For sure, government has its own responsibilities and forms of torture that any ruler would happily escape. I myself am wear of sleepless nights and seemingly insoluble problems, but that is a different crown of thorns. Yours is real. My own laurelled crown does, certainly, cause me to sweat from time to time as I ponder on all that it entails. Yours, however, causes droplets of blood, your own blood, to trickle down your forehead and your face, onto your robes, which are only kingly because of your willingness to die for something in which you believe.

You are a fool, Jesus of Nazareth. You have put me in an unenviable position. I have offered the rabble the choice of you or Barabbas. They chose the bandit and for that, I have no option. I must condemn you even though I think you are innocent of wrongdoing. Where does that put me? All history will remember me as finding against an innocent man. History will punish me and exonerate you.

You are a fool, Jesus of Nazareth. If you would speak, you could be free once more to roam the hills and to sail the lake as your fishermen companions pay out their nets for a catch. Yet you do not speak. It is frightening. It strikes fear into the deepest recesses of my heart. I am afraid that I am on the edge of something far deeper than my mind will ever grasp. There is a mystery here that is far beyond my comprehension.

Are you a fool, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you a fool, or am I?

God bless,
Sr. Janet