It is usually my practice to remain for at least an hour at the Altar of Repose after the Holy Thursday liturgy, but last night I could not. I had to get home to prepare for the next few days, so after a brief visit to Jesus and apologies, I set for home.
Instead of my Adoration time, I watched "The Passion of the Christ", interrupted by laundry and other preparations.
Still, my time in waiting has been spent praying through the movie, bringing the historical and spiritual reality of the Sacred Triduum into my very home, into my very heart and soul, once again.
Although several things have stricken me (as they do every time), this year I have focused my prayer on the intent of Pilate and actions of Christ in response. Specifically when Pilate brings Jesus before the crowd, after His scourging.
Who can not be moved by such a sight?
Jesus has been scourged and is brought before the people, bound, bloodied from the terrible scourging that hasn't left an inch of skin untouched, a cap (crown) of thorns driven not just into the skin, but through bone. And still he is covered in spit, his face is swollen to the degree of being misshapen, and a soiled cloak (soiled by only God knows what) has been placed over his shoulders mocking him as "King of the Jews".
He weeps for Jesus, although does not show his "tears" to the people. He beholds Our Lord and sees what He has suffered, and hopes for mercy..but he does not pray, for Pilate is a pagan and does not believe in God, or the Son of God before him. But he does understand the belief of the people and pleads with them to respond with mercy to the plight of the suffering man before him.
Pilate does not understand what is about, but offers the last option: a revolutionary, a despicable murderer, the worst crime that could be committed in the taking of human life. He compares Bar-Abbas to Iesu, demanding the crowd to make a choice, an obvious one: Jesus, who hasn't fought back, who has suffered silently, or Bar-Abbas who...well...is as disgusting a person as he actually looks even without being completely beat up and bloodied.
Mark this, it is no mistake that the man whose name means "Son of the Father" was traded to freedom in order to condemn the man who is, truly, the Son of God.
Pilate didn't want Jesus to go to his suffering and death, but his sin was this: allowing it. He feared so much for his own standing that he allowed an innocent man to die. Yet Jesus still freed him, for Jesus himself pointed out to Pilate that the sins of those who sent Him (Jesus) to Pilate were greater. He didn't let Pilate off the hook, but rather, pointed out the gravity of sin and the fact that actually, Pilate's sin was weakness (venial), whereas those who sent Our Lord to the Cross by accusation and advocation were guilty of a GREATER sin. Mortal sin, actually.
Look again, and look hard.
Pilate brought Jesus before the crowd, holding Him there,
Behold Him indeed! Behold Him, to takes away the sins of the world! Behold Jesus, who suffered this and more for YOUR sins!
Pilate SCREAMED these words, ECCE HOMO! for all to hear, for this was long before sound systems existed. He screamed with his voice, his entire being, to reach the crowd.
It wasn't screamed in gloating, but in desperate pleading. Final pleading.
But it WASN'T enough. By human terms it WAS enough, but by the screeching of the crowds, it wasn't anywhere near sufficient. They screamed all the more,
And they didn't know it, but even by their screeching for His demise, they were saved...if they chose to accept Him later.
Jesus didn't die "for all", as some would have by the human-created doctrine of comfort, but rather "for many", for our own cooperation is a requirement of our salvation. The God who created us without our permission does not save us without it.