Good Friday, April 10, 2020
33 Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” 37 Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
When Pilate asked the somewhat cynical and rhetorical question, “What is truth?” he did not understand was that it was Truth himself who stood before him. Jesus Christ is the King of Truth, for he brought the Truth of God into the world of man. The outcome of this exchange is that Pilate is aware that Jesus is innocent. He can see that the accusations against Jesus are an internal matter, and the temple authorities are trying to draw him in. Vainly Pilate tries to find a way out. He tries by making concessions: 1st the Passover privilege releasing a condemned criminal, but that does not work. The Jewish authorities are angry and persistent. Pilot’s cowardice and indecision lead soon to commit the injustice of condemning to death of a man he knows to be innocent.
On April 12, 1974, in his Good Friday Address, Pope Paul made the following observation. “The mystery of innocent suffering is the most obscure points on the entire horizon of human wisdom: and here it is affirmed most flagrantly. But before we uncover something of this problem there already grows up in us an unrestrained affection for the innocent who suffers, Jesus, and for all innocent people whether they be old or young who are suffering, and those whose pain we cannot explain. The way of the cross leads us to meet the first person in a sorrowful procession of innocent people who suffer, and this first blameless and suffering person uncovers for us, in the end, the secret of his passion. It is a sacrifice.”
Innocent suffering, when offered in a selfless, loving, and sacrificial manner, is never for naught. In the economy of salvation, it is mystically bound up with Christ’s offering on Calvary. In this way, even what we may regard as inconsequential suffering becomes a pleasing sacrifice to God the Father, in union with His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.