THIRD WEEK OF LENT: WEDNESDAY
The wonderful Silence of Jesus before Pilate's Judgement Seat
1st Prelude. Behold Jesus standing calm and silent in the midst of the clamour and accusations of the people who were stirred up against Him.
2nd Prelude. Beg for grace faithfully to imitate the great example our Lord then gave us.
POINT I. "And when He was accused by the chief priests and ancients, He answered nothing."
CONSIDERATION. The first accusations which the Jews brought were so vague and untruthful that Pilate rejected them, and declared our Lord's innocence. It was beneath our Lord's dignity to reply to some of the points; and besides, the sanctity of His life answered for Him, confounding His calumniators, but proving His divinity. He did indeed try to hide it under His humanity, but it was revealed by His answers to the judge.
APPLICATION. Happy is the man whose conduct is an unanswerable defence against the false accusations of the wicked and envious! Happier still if his conscience bears witness to his constant endeavour to be spotless before God. Are we amongst this happy number?
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT II. "And Pilate again asked Him, saying, Answerest Thou nothing? Behold in how many things they accuse Thee. But He answerest him never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly."
CONSIDERATION. The astonishment of Pilate was not surprising. What would seem more natural for an accused man standing before a tribunal from which there was no appeal, and whose death was eagerly sought after, than to defend himself, and exert every effort to declare his innocence, especially when called upon to do so by a judge favourable to his cause? But Jesus was silent. He who often by a single word had confounded His enemies and turned the anger of the people against them, now would not utter one. Pilate could not understand the calm dignity of our Lord's silence, seeing clearly that it did not proceed from pride or resentment.
APPLICATION. We are better off than Pilate, for we know why our Blessed Lord kept that heroic silence. He was determined to die for us; and having manifested the truth, He would not say a single word to save His own life. And also, He chose by this painful silence to expiate our sins of the tongue, and to teach us to control our desire of answering our superiors haughtily when they reprove us, or our wish to give a sharp and angry retort to those who wound our feelings, or injure us in any ways.
AFFECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS.
POINT III. "But they were the more earnest, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place."
CONSIDERATION. When Pilate had seen and acknowledged that the accused was innocent, his duty was to silence the accusers, and dismiss them with the contempt they deserved. But this he dared not do. The Jews, perceiving his weakness, tried to take advantage of it. They began to clamour and importune him to grant the request which was against his conscience; and they succeeded only too well.
APPLICATION. Our great enemy the devil acts in the same way towards us; as soon as he sees us hesitating between God and creatures, or conscience and our passions, he takes advantage of our weakness, and grows bolder than ever. He pours his arguments into our ears, terrifies us with the slight of imaginary difficulties, and lets us have no peace until we consent to sin. Let us, then, taught by Pilate's example, be on our guard against our own weakness, and without indulging any unreasonable fear of the tempter, never give in an inch to him; let us firmly resist his first suggestion, arming ourselves, as the Apostle says, with the shield of faith and prayer.
COLLOQUY with Jesus Christ.