On the Sentence of Death Pronounced Against Jesus.
The Jews clamoured for the death of Jesus. Pilate, who was convinced of his innocence, wished to evade the demand. The Jews declared: "We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God." "Take him yourselves and crucify him," answered Pilate, "for I find no cause in him." The law of the world condemns the Son of God to death! All worldlings cry through the mouths of the Jews, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" If you are a slave to the maxims of the world you conspire, with the Jews against Jesus. Christians have also a law which condemns to the eternal death of hell a sensual and voluptuous life.
Pilate questioned Jesus, and Jesus replied not because he had been guilty of an act of great injustice. Even while he believed Jesus to be innocent, Pilate inflicted cruel injuries on him. Why? Because he did not profit by what Jesus had already said to him or desire to learn the truth. Jesus had spoken with an air of authority and Pilate was proud and unjust in saying to him that he could deliver or condemn him, for if he could have delivered the innocent he should have done it since he was invested with power only that he might acquit himself of his duty. Behold how dangerous it is not to profit by the Word of God! Jesus keeps silence and speaks no more.
You complain that God no longer responds to you in prayer and ask the cause of his silence. Perhaps you have offended him and excited his anger by mortal sin. Perhaps your continual and dissipated intercourse with the world is displeasing to him. Perhaps your heart is too much set on some earthly object. All of these render the soul deaf to God’s voice. It may be that you are too curious in spiritual things, or desire to learn without toil, or think, in your presumption, that he may unite himself to your soul without the intervention of the senses, either corporal or spiritual. If thus tempted, it is necessary to humiliate, but not trouble yourself.
Pilate is afraid to condemn Jesus Christ, not only because he is convinced of his innocence, but he has also discovered a power of divinity in him which terrifies and makes him tremble. Notwithstanding which, when he heard the people threatening him with the anger of Caesar, he betrayed his conscience, and delivered Jesus to his enemies that they might satisfy their fury by putting him to death. Oh, human respect! Oh, miserable fear of the world! It is this that has condemned and put to death the Son of God! It is this which causes him to die every day in the hearts of men! They are afraid of giving offence to Caesar. Judges condemn the innocent to gratify the vengeance of the great. Christians commit acts of injustice to please their friends. Mercenary souls betray their conscience, and condemn Jesus to death, to preserve their goods, their fortune, and their employment.
Resolution: Never again will I act or speak to obtain human respect or to please others. I will only speak and act in accordance with God’s will, no matter the cost.
Prayer: Oh, sweet Jesus, condemned to an ignominious death! All the world cries out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" There is no voice heard in thy defense to deliver or give thee life. Thou didst submit to all this through obedience to thy Father in heaven, whose will it was for thee to die, but who desired not the sin of this wicked judge. Thou dost submit to deliver us from eternal death, the sentence of which was issued against all the children of Adam, to show the love thou hast for us, and thy desire to suffer for us. Thou dost submit, in order that we may be submissive to the chastisements of God, and that we may not be troubled as to whether the person who afflicts and injures us is good or wicked, or whether they are guided by reason or passion.
By the injustice thou didst suffer at the hands of Pilate grant that I may never act out of human respect or to please others, but that I may always stand up for what is true and right, no matter what the cost. For if I sell myself to others, I am lost forever to thee. For all the times I have done so in the past I am most heartily sorry and beg forgiveness. O Mary, my Mother, pray for me that I may always act and speak the truth knowing the if I do not, the cost is my eternal salvation.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.