Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Twas ever so

In the way of these things, as Holy Week goes on for a priest almost everything seems to get subsumed by the events that the week relates to.
After 50+ years,I know this feeling well, and it is good to not fight it, indeed I rather enjoy giving in to the flow.
Events that are happening about us in this world begin to echo the events that took place in the life of Jesus. This is hardly surprising since the story has about it that sort of universal quality that is called "archetypal". That is it sets out and refers to eternal truths. We are quite familiar with this . And the Christian stories are not the only "archetypal" stories. They occur as legends and myths, and as the heroic stories of society. So we hear echoes, not just of religious stories but of universal truths.

So I am struck by the theme of 'injustice', and how powerful political leaders are often not free to do the right thing. Though Pilate was nobody's bunny, and was in almost every sense a total despot. We read how he listened to the charges about Jesus and simply said....these charges are trumped up :

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.’ Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’
This is how Luke's Gospel reads, and (as is so typical) he sends Jesus off to someone else, so that he won't be seen to do the wrong thing. But he is not allowed to do this.
This attitude looks very like the buck-passing that we have seen with Hicks. Nothing much to do with facts, a lot to do with pressure and political expediency.
Which is why we then read in the story:
‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
That is, Pilate just gives up and does what he believes is popular even though he has clearly stated that it is wrong.

There is, as is said elsewhere "nothing new under the sun"

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