Shiela Cassidy moves from Torture to the roaring mob outside Pilate’s Palace and hears the hateful words of the Crowd. When I contemplate the Holy Week Gospel narrative, I often wonder if those who hailed Jesus with Hosannas just days ago, where also calmly for his death on that fateful day.
Here is what Sheila Cassidy has to say.
“When the torturers had finished with Jesus, Pilate presented him to the crowd, thinking they would be appeased by seeing him so hurt and humiliated - but they were not.to be moved, and shouted with one voice, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him’. And Pilate who was a weak man, and afraid of trouble, did the expedient thing, and sentenced Jesus to death.
There is something obscene about the death penalty: some- thing much worse than all the terrible things that people do to each other in anger or for lust, for gain or for revenge. Oscar Wilde captures the feel of this in The Ballad of Reading Gaol in which he writes of a prisoner awaiting execution for killing his mistress.
I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.
I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
‘That fellow’s got to swing.’
Dear Christ, the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel. l
I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.:”
But here in the condemned Christ, what do we see. C S Lewis put is this way, “ It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.“ With N T Wright following in similar thoughts, “Jesus' death was seen by Jesus himself ... as the ultimate means by which God's kingdom was established. The crucifixion was the shocking answer to the prayer that God's kingdom would come on earth as in heaven.”
Having read Shiela’s words we may well need to ask where do we stand as we hear the words, “Crucify him, Crucify him!”
Perhaps we should ponder on the statement by William Penn who said, “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”
We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine
Lord, our God;
Give us the eyes to see your face
the ears to know your voice
among ordinary people,
both the good and the bad.
Let us not be fooled
by the wrapping:
by dull brown paper
or tawdry ribbon,
but grant us the insight,
the patience and gentleness,
to unwrap, to uncover,
the gifts that lie hidden
in all your people.
Help us to share the pain of others,
to learn what it means
to be fully human.