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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 17- Pilate is Put on Trial by Jesus

John 18:28-40

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. 13 It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and said, "What charge do you bring (against) this man?" They answered and said to him, "If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." At this, Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law." The Jews answered him, "We do not have the right to execute anyone," 14 15 in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?" Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. 16 For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, "I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. 17 Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" They cried out again, "Not this one but Barabbas!" 18 Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

John's account of Jesus' trial before Pilate is the most detailed of all the gospel accounts.  According to Binz, John is bringing out Pilate's inner struggle.  John expands the conversation between Pilate and Jesus during Pilate's questioning.  We hear Jesus explain that his kingdom is not of this world and he is here in this world so that he my reveal the truth.  Then he goes on to say, "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."  This statement implies a question; Jesus is asking Pilate if he knows the truth.  Pilate's response to Jesus is a question: "What is truth?"  So, we see that Pilate doesn't know the truth.  Binz goes onto explain that "Nothing is more contrary to the truth than Pilate and the world he represents."

I think that we live in a world much like the world Pilate represented.  We live in a society that has compromised the truth.  We live in a society that favors the the will of self over the will of God.  So, how do we live in this society?  Am I like Pilate- blind to the truth?  Or am I like the Saints-those who lived the truth and even died for the truth?  Is it possible to be just a regular person trying to find the line in the sand?  Is it possible to live the truth but not rock the boat? 

Its funny how this study and my catechism class are making wonderful parallels.  I was just reading today about the meaning of the second commandment.  I am not going to attempt to paraphrase Kreeft since he states it so eloquently:
"The faithful should bear witness to the Lord's name by confessing the faith"[cf. Mt 10:32; I Tim 6:12] (CCC 2145).  Catholics should be as zealous as any of the sects... in "witnessing" publicly to their faith, for it is not theirs as a private and personal possession, like their good looks, but is a public divine gift.  They should be proud of it, and certainly never ashamed, for this is not being proud of themselves.
To "witness" to unbelievers is to risk scorn and hostility and, in many places in the world today, even to risk death.  Even in nations that have freedom of religion, to witness to the faith is to risk social ostracism and misunderstanding.  But this is a small price to pay for loyalty to the Christ who paid the ultimate price for us.  And it is a price Christ requires (see Mk 8:34-38).
Kreeft, Peter J.  Catholic Christianity.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001. pp. 211

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