Jesus Before Caiphas
Source: THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus,
TAN BOOKS, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1895
ANNAS being unable to discover any grounds for condemning Jesus Christ, and yet being desirous that He should be condemned, sends Him to the High Priest Caiphas, and leaves the decision of the case to him. Contemplate Jesus thus taken before a second tribunal.
1. Our Blessed Lord, bound like a thief, is conducted through the public streets of Jerusalem accompanied by a large body of soldiers who indulge their rage and hatred by ill-treating Him in every possible way, and surrounded by a multitude of people who overwhelm Him with insults and maledictions, and rejoice over His misfortunes. Jesus advances, His feet bare, and His strength utterly exhausted by all His mental and bodily sufferings, offering up the ignominy and tortures He is now enduring, to His Eternal Father, for the salvation of my soul. The soldiers render His position still more painful, by inviting people to approach and see their renowned prisoner, while Jesus proceeds on His way in the midst of them, with a humble demeanor and with downcast eyes, to teach us what value we should set on the esteem and honor of the world, and the applause of men. But a few days previously Jesus had passed through these same streets, applauded and honored by the crowd as the Messias, and now, abandoned even by His disciples, He is followed only by perfidious enemies who seek His death, and unite in deriding and insulting Him as a malefactor, and the last of men. Such is the duration of the honors and praises of the world! Learn hence to seek the good pleasure of God alone, to labor for the acquisition of a right to the immortal honors of Paradise, and to practice patience under humiliation, from the example of Jesus.
2. The Doctors and Ancients of the Synagogue are all assembled in the house of Caiphas, awaiting the arrival of Christ, and as soon as they perceive Him approaching, they begin to consult together concerning the best way of condemning Him. They are thirsting for His blood, they are eager for His death, but it is not sufficient for their purpose that He should die, He must also die as a criminal, and with the disgrace of having merited death. Witnesses are summoned from all parts, and liberty is given to every one to accuse the innocent Saviour of the world. The hall of the Great Council is filled with people, and in front of all stands Jesus, as a criminal, with His hands bound, and in an attitude of profound humility and meekness. Every one invents at will accusations, brings forward all that rage and jealousy can dictate, to stain the fair fame of our sweet Jesus, and utter the most atrocious calumnies against Him who is innocence itself. Jesus listens in silence, and His Heart is oppressed with sorrow that such horrible lies should be uttered, nevertheless His patience never wavers, and He prays for His calumniators with the tenderest charity. Jesus holds His peace, not because He is unable to justify Himself, but to teach you by His mysterious silence that whenever your own innocence alone is concerned there is no better weapon than humble silence for the refutation of calumny.
3. Caiphas, seeing that none of the witnesses can bring forward sufficient proof of any of their accusations for Jesus to be condemned, and that He, notwithstanding every provocation, still remains silent, gives the rein to his fierce passions, and adjures our Saviour, in the name of God, to tell him whether He is the Son of the Most High. Jesus is perfectly conscious that the Jews will make any acknowledgment of His Divinity serve as a specious pretext for condemning Him to death; and yet, so great is His love of truth, and respect for the adorable name of God, that He replies with angelic modesty of demeanor, "I am."
No sooner has the wicked High Priest heard the humble answer of Jesus Christ, than he rends his sacerdotal garment as if through horror of an execrable blasphemy, hypocritically exaggerates the enormity of the supposed crime, and draws from thence the conclusion that Jesus must be condemned to death as a blasphemer. The whole Council concur in this sentence, and tumultuously raising their voices, exclaim: "He is worthy of death!"
Compassionate our suffering Redeemer in this painful situation. He is forced to speak when He prefers silence; and, when at length He utters a word, that word is construed into a crime deserving of death. The detractions and calumnies of the wicked have always threatened the lives of the just, but the just have always found in the example of their Saviour ample consolation for all outrages. Jesus is treated as a blasphemer, and He bears the ineffable wrong done Him with the most patient meekness. If you keep His example before your eyes, you will no longer have any difficulty in supporting the most disgraceful calumnies.
It is not sufficient to submit to humiliations and calumnies; you must, moreover, submit to them with the intention of imitating Jesus, and for the love of Him. Make a firm resolution that you will remember the humble and patient demeanor of Jesus Christ amidst the outrages and false accusations of His enemies, in order to encourage yourself to follow His example. Carefully repress your natural inclination to speak in your own defense, and offer up your silence to Jesus.
ExampleMeditation on the sufferings of Jesus teaches us patience under the most painful trials. Blessed Osanna of Cataro, being one day oppressed with a burning fever, besought the Almighty to grant her some relief, when Jesus Christ appeared to her, covered with wounds and streaming with blood, and said, "Daughter, why dost thou grieve so much over thy sufferings, and not rather over the bitter tortures which I have endured for love of thee?" So deep was the impression made upon the mind and heart of the servant of God by the words and appearance of Jesus, that henceforward, far from complaining, she would exclaim, "Oh, what agony has Jesus endured in His Passion! How can we have the heart to complain?" Accustom yourself to compare your sufferings with those of Jesus, and you will soon cease to be impatient.
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