Pontius Pilate, Postmodern American

Nathan’s post on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ last year generated a lot of discussion and ended with an intriguing question:  “Why does Pilate always get so much empathy from us?”

It would be easy, at this point, to start tossing around charges of anti-Semitism, charges which would allow us to feel a certain measure of moral superiority over those less enlightened than ourselves.  Then we could pray like the righteous Pharisee, “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, anti-Semites like Mel Gibson over there” (Lk 18:10).

Throwing around such charges is a way of doing precisely the same thing that blaming the Jews for the crucifixion once did:  deflecting guilt from ourselves.  I would suggest a far more troubling answer to the question, “Why do we empathize with Pilate?”

Because Pontius Pilate is the character in the Passion who is most like us.

Pilate is educated, Western, professional; he is not a sociopath, not some oriental despot, neither particularly poor nor fantastically rich; above all, he is no religious fanatic.  The purity laws of the Jews, their concerns about idolatry, seem as foreign and irrational to him as they do to us.  His concern is not for God’s honor but for, to borrow a phrase from the Constitution, domestic tranquility.  He wishes the Jews would disagree without being so violently disagreeable.

Pilate is not bloodthirsty.  Nor is he indifferent to justice.  If given the choice, he would prefer that the innocent not die, but neither truth nor justice are his highest priorities.  He is more concerned with keeping the peace and keeping his job.  Pilate fears the passions of the crowd and the opinions of his superiors.  He is a canny enough politician to know that it is best to stay the middle course.  Even if the middle course is immoral—having Jesus beaten before he is released (Lk 23:13)—it is still moderate and centrist.

Pilate’s actions in the Gospels even have a way of bridging differences.  He becomes friends with his onetime rival, Herod.  In Luke’s Gospel, Herod is spiritual but not religious.  He is curious about Jesus, not wishing him any harm at first, even eager to see him.  But when he realizes that there is no religious novelty in Jesus, no quick fix, no sign; when the spiritual exoticism has worn off and Herod sees in Jesus only the prospect of unpopular moral commitment, he has no use for him.

Pilate recognizes no absolute standard of truth.  “What is truth?” he asks (Jn 18:38), a question repeated in our own day often in such a tone as to imply that to answer would be offensive.  Pilate, like so many of us, faced with perplexing truth claims and passionate religious differences, weighed down with a history of violence and error, takes refuge in a relativism that seeks simply to tolerate.  Pilate has a COEXIST bumper sticker on his car.

The problem with coexistence, however, is that it occasionally means sacrificing those who step too far out of the social order, those whose existence threatens our coexistence, whether they be innocent or not.  Coexistence cannot tolerate one who says that coexistence is not enough, that there is a right and a wrong way of existing.  Tolerance cannot bear one who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).  Jesus came preaching love, not tolerance.  The Gospels would have had a very different ending if his command had been, “Tolerate one another as I have tolerated you” (Jn 13:34).

We are like Pilate.  We all desire to be thought of as moderates; we do not like our religion too extreme; we get nervous at words like “truth.”  We know that such words have a way of stirring conflict, and we want peace.

I once had a conversation with a well-educated Catholic gentleman about what it takes to get into heaven, and he kept coming back to the idea that all it really takes is being a “decent” person.  Such a belief is one of the tenets of “moralistic therapeutic deism,” America’s default interdenominational creed.  We are mostly decent people, which means we are mostly capable of functioning in society without doing each other more than average harm.  I would bet, however, that the crowd that cheered Jesus on Palm Sunday and turned against him on Good Friday were mostly decent people.  Holy Week reminds us of just how awful the no-more-than-average-harm decent people do really is.  Pontius Pilate was no monster; he was an entirely average man, faced with an impossible dilemma:  allow an innocent man to die or risk insurrection.  And yet, it is Pontius Pilate who orders Jesus to be killed.

We can sympathize with Pilate because he looks for compromise, because he is the Gospel’s most pragmatic character.  We fear absolutes, and on Good Friday Jesus offers only the absolute.  On Good Friday the prospects of a harmonious earthly kingdom are stripped away, like Jesus’ garments at the tenth station.  All that remains is God, all that remains is the truth, and everything else is gone.  If Pilate were to side with Jesus, he would be choosing the truth—and that’s it.  Nothing more.  In fact, he would be surrendering happiness and harmony, prosperity and peace.

But, surely, God wants us to have all those things, we say.  Surely, God would not ask us to give up what we think we need for happiness.

On Good Friday, Pilate meets a God who offers us nothing but God.  And he balks.

And we too are so in the habit of balking that we no longer see doing so as evil; in fact, we dress it up with names like tolerance and moderation and decency.  Pilate’s actions in the Gospel are no less blameworthy than those of Caiaphas or Judas or the crowd, but we empathize with him because we ourselves would mostly prefer to send Jesus out of sight to be crucified and then post guards around the tomb.

AL, SJ

Advertisements

34 Responses to Pontius Pilate, Postmodern American

  1. William Atkinson says:

    Everybody seems like they always trying to figure out the whys and wheres of civil unrest during Romes occupation of mideastern communities and compare to righteous times of ours today. Like it or not Jesus was a troublemaker, causing not only unrest to an already society having their own divided religious and political tense environments, but he had gone up against his own communities, the very people and folks he grew up and lived with. At the times many many different factor groups, divided religious left and right organizations, terrorist groups, Anti jewish and gentile groups, many many foreign peoples, and hugh numbers of unorganized divided political enities, and multiple waring races and hugh numbers of foreign Roman and Egyptian armies occupying a small area of land. And Jesus starts to have a following that, even tho small, wanders around with him through the territories. It was only just a matter of short period before authorities, like it or not, could no longer tolerate a small growing activist groups causing so much unrest. All the different factors, religious, local, provincial and Roman had to quell the potential uprising before it caused to much division. In the end, few years after all these troubles the political situation got so bad the Federalies, ROME, finally was forced to end it all and drive the troublemakers, the religious divided enities completely out of the lands inorder to brings order and peace to the mideast. So yes, liken to our own times, modern kingdoms and societies must put down unrest and drive out groups and terror activist inorder to keep order and peace. So like all the revolutionaries thru history some leave a great mark on world history, French and American revolutionaries, Moses, Gandi, Martin Luther King, whats happening in arab world today, some people are remembers,deeply. Jesus is only individual who’s small impact, a dot in a place in time, actually grew against tremendous odds, to become a universal figure in history, outstanding impact on all mankind, this is only a cause and effect by a force way beyond what can be visioned by any and all interpretive knowledge available to man thru the ages.

  2. Kevin says:

    This is the part of Catholic dogma that I struggle with most. The part that believes God/Jesus are so egomaniacal that a good person who fails to accept Jesus will be denied heaven. I realize that is an oversimplification, but I don’t believe it to be an unfair characterization. I believe God and Jesus want people to enter heaven, and I also believe the verse about nobody getting there except through Him can and should be taken to mean the following: Through Him means through following in His footsteps… walking the walk… living the life. Jesus did not worship Himself. He did not sing songs about Himself. He cherished humanity, He cherished the world, He gave of Himself. If His ego is capable of preventing non believers from an eternity of bliss, that would not be in keeping with any of the Lord’s actions as documented in the Gospels.

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Kevin – I think you are confusing egomaniacal with just. Of course God desires ALL His children (i.e. humanity) to return to Him in heaven. But we all have free will and must choose this.

      God is most merciful, and can of course bring into heaven whomever He wills. But it is not for you or me to decide. He instituted His church on earth and left us the gospels to help us choose our path correctly, giving us the tools to return to Him. This is the ONLY way we can be sure we are on the right path. Anything less falls into the category of subjectiveness; being “like” Jesus or “good enough” to get into heaven.

      Even if I were a gambling man I wouldn’t risk those odds.

      • Kevin says:

        And you believe it is just that an otherwise good person is condemned because he/she doesn’t believe in God? So, if Catholics believed hell was a physical place, Gandhi would be rotting there now (either way, a man who gave selflessly and only thought of others has been denied heaven)? Respectfully, please explain to me how that doesn’t indicate divine vanity.

    • Qualis Rex says:

      First, Ghandi was a racist and an elitist. What he wrote about Africans would put a smile on any KKK member’s face. So, maybe he’s not the best example here. Second, as I said very clearly, God is merciful. If He wills it that someone who never knew of the gospels or the church can go to heaven, then so be it. We do not know with 100% certainty that anyone is in hell precisely because of God’s mercy. As I said, God gives us specific commands through the gospels and left us the mechanism to receive His grace through the church. This is not vanity, it is mercy. Vanity is thinking you know more or better than God on how he should do His job.

      • Pete Lake says:

        Perhaps the confusion in the argument here stems from a deeper confusion in what we mean by heaven, or salvation, or condemnation. A non-believer, to use Kevin’s term, who remains a non-believer forever condemns himself. A non-believer who becomes a believer and accepts Christ’s mercy receives his eternal inheritance as a Son of God. There is no other salvation. If it helps conceptually, we could say that Jesus is our salvation, He is Salvation Itself when we unite ourseles to Him. This is not vanity. It is the answer to Pilate’s question, what is truth? The One standing in front of him.

      • Kevin says:

        A couple of things. First, I almost dismissed your argument entirely after the “Gandhi was a racist” tangent. But we’ll set that aside. Pick another person who has led a Christ-like life without believing in the man as the son of God. Everyone’s arguments about God presenting humanity with a choice (believe or no eternal bliss for you) is as clear an indication of vanity as I could think of. There is no mercy in taking an otherwise good person and denying them bliss because he didn’t praise God. Why would a just and merciful God require that if it isn’t ego? What is the practical purpose behind such a mandate?

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      HI Kevin

      In this case oversimplification does lead to unfair characterization, in fact, inaccuracy. Pete’s comment is quite perceptive; heaven is not a big amusement park in the sky where we go if we’ve done our chores and refrained from pulling our sister’s hair. As Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25). What we mean by “heaven” is nothing other than relationship with Jesus, in fact, sharing his life.

      This is not a matter of divine egoism; it is simply a matter of the truth of things. Egoism is having an inflated sense of one’s self-importance, not simply stating the truth. If I say “I am a thirty-one year old rather bald male,” that’s not egoism; it’s simply the truth of who I am. When Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life,” that’s not egoism either; it’s simply who he is.

      Since we mean by heaven, sharing God’s life, it should be obvious that no one can really deserve heaven. The only one who has a right to God’s life is God, so we should probably be a little more careful in so righteously asserting our claims against him — he might give us the justice that we ask for.

      All that said, this post really wasn’t so much about how we are saved, as about the need for truth itself. The Catholic Church has held, since at least the time of Justin Martyr, that salvation is possible even for those who have not explicitly heard the words of the Gospel; such people might be saved by their yearning for Jesus, even if they’ve never heard the name “Jesus.” As Qualis points out, God desires the salvation of all men, though he gives us the freedom to refuse his invitation, whatever form that invitation might take.

      You’re not so wrong in saying that we must “walk the walk” (though here, you’re much more likely to offend Protestants than Catholics), but the problem still remains of what exactly is meant by that. My point in the above is that “walking the walk” requires some notion of objective right and wrong. “Come, take up your cross and follow me” is not the same as “live-and-let-live” or “just be a nice person.”

      This isn’t anything like an adequate treatment of what it means to be saved or how one is saved, but it is a mischaracterization of the Church’s faith to assert that salvation is rooted in the attribution of a human psychological characteristic to God or that it is somehow arbitrarily detached from the truth of who we are and the truth of who God is.

      Tony

      • Kevin says:

        Believe me, I’m well aware that my views offend Protestants. I’m also aware that it is foolish to ascribe human characteristics or apply human psychology to God. But if we are to describe Him as loving and just (which most Christians do), absent any other frame of reference, these are the terms and definitions available (“the alpha and the omega” really doesn’t frame the debate). I happen to believe Joseph Campbell best described what heaven might be like, that when we get there we will have such a marvelous time gazing at God that eternal bliss is assured. I don’t believe it to be an amusement park (though none of us can really say for certain, so why not). I also don’t believe what heaven might be matters.

        Why would God require belief? If not ego, if not vanity, then to what end? And (I say this to others who might reply, not to Tony who — I believe — knows better) please don’t respond by saying we should not question His ways, because He gave us free will to do exactly that. If we don’t use the gifts God gave us to try to make sense of the world and our place in it, what is the point?

        I know it is not my place to judge absolute right or absolute wrong, but I believe such things exist, and I believe that someone who leads as right a life as humanly possible deserves eternal bliss, and I refuse to accept the almost uniquely Christian ideal (note, I wrote “almost”) that there is only one way, one act, one belief that earns you bliss. Billions of good and decent Mormons, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists over the centuries, to say nothing of unbaptized babies who died prematurely, all denied the grace of God? Really?

      • Pete Lake says:

        Kevin, as you can probably gather from my previous comment, I’m a believer, but I’m also thoroughly enjoying this discourse you have generated. I suppose, based on your last comment, that you consider God’s commandment to love him above all things as a clear indication of vanity and egoism on the part of God. It is after all a command, not a request. But, ask yourself honestly, is it really vanity or egoism? I mean, what could we really add to God? If God is God, what more or greater (even in terms of an amusement partk) could He give us than Himself? I would suggest that is not vanity, but rather a pouring out of God’s love on to us, and He asks us to do the same in return (reditus exitus). When we realize that, what St. Ignatius would call freeing ourselves of “attachments,” we are truely free and able to harness all of our freedom is choosing, by an act of the will, to love God in return. That is not vanity but rather movement into relationship or union with God. God does not want us to love Him for the sake of any vanity or so-called egoism. God wants us to love Him because He loves us. Our eternal Father loves us like our earthly fathers love us. It is the opposite of vanity or egoism. It emptying one’s self for the other. It is losing sight of one’s self in order to see the other.

      • Kevin says:

        Pete,

        I realize I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I don’t know any other way except to ask it again: Why does God need/want/request/command (choose whatever word you feel applies) our love? Why is that the lynchpin for eternal happiness? I ask this as someone who DOES believe.

        Everything I know about my Lord tells me this is antithetical to everything else He commanded or taught. Jesus was the perfect embodiment of a mortal man and he set the example for us all to follow. He was a healer and a counselor and a friend and a mentor. He taught us to help each other. He taught us to respect even the least among us. He taught us to dance. We cannot equal His greatness as a man, but we can strive to try. And it baffles me that if a man or woman attempts to do so, he or she will be thwarted at the proverbial pearly gates because he or she didn’t give thanks and praise to God.

      • Pete Lake says:

        Kevin,

        I don’t think you sound like a broken record; if we’re going to parse the issue then let’s parse the issue.

        First, I don’t think God needs us to love him, in the sense that God is not “needing” of anything.

        But we know that Jesus taught us to call God Our Father. So, to ask your question another way, “why does Our Father command/want us love Him?” I can think of many reasons, but I suppose the short of it is that it is His nature. God is love. He created us, and such creation was an act of pure love by God who is love.

        Why do our earthly parents love us and want us to love them back?

        Now, as you have well pointed out, we have free will and freedom. I suppose we could run off course here and start talking about “freedom” as a bundle of liberties that we may exercise from time to time, or that we are sometimes prevented from exercising, or that we wish we could exercises, which would be true in part. But true freedom, as Qualis pointed out, is the freedom to love God or not.

        We heard in one of the Gospel readings last week that if we know the Truth, the Truth will “set us free.” I suppose you could say, then, that it is not only in God’s nature to love, but it is also in our nature to love God, and so when we choose freely to do so, then we are most free.

        I can’t “prove” any of this, just like I can’t “prove” that I love my daughter and that she love me. But my daughter can jump into my arms and I can embrace her in return. We can all do the same with God.

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        I don’t have much time to respond, but I’d like to add two points to the discussion:

        (1) Nothing in the life of Jesus suggests that just being decent is good enough. If by walking the walk we mean doing what he does, that means dying for our neighbors. The Sermon on the Mount could not set the bar any higher (“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”). Paradoxically, even some pretty scummy people who turned to Jesus for mercy received it… like the thief crucified next to Jesus.

        (2) I think a major reason for the difficulty you are expressing, Kevin, is in seeing heaven as an external thing we are given. This is a natural result of the images we sometimes use (“going to heaven” or even beatific “vision,” which implies looking on something external to us). These images are useful, but also limited. Heaven means union with God, sharing in his life; this means not just receiving God’s love, but loving as God himself loves. That’s what the experience of heaven is, loving as God loves. And that, in turn, is an expression of who we are. I imagine that most of the people in hell won’t notice that they’re there; their state in the afterlife won’t be much different than it is in this life. Heaven means being open, however, to the divine life growing in us, transforming us and our actions into something truly Godlike.

      • Kevin says:

        Whether heaven is internal, external, or ethereal doesn’t alter/negate the question. And whatever non-human psychology can be applied to God doesn’t alter/negate the question.

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        Yes, it does change the question absolutely.

        The question you are asking is: Where do I go?

        The question I am asking is: Who am I?

      • Pete Lake says:

        Of course it does change the question.

        Kevin asks whether the Lord’s ego is capable of preventing non-believers from an eternity of bliss?

        As Anthony points out, that very question iself seems to imply that an eternity of bliss can exist separate and apart from God, i.e., apart from the One who is Eternal. The answer of course is no. There is no such thing as eternity, or eternal bliss, heaven, etc. without that “heavenly” or “saintly” (for lack of better words) union with God.

        In other words, a non-believer asking for eternal bliss, to use Kevin’s term, is asking for what exactly? The way Anthony has nicely framed it, by asking “Who am I?”, anyone asking for eternal bliss has to necessarily be asking for union in the life and love of God.

        While I think the above is clear to me, I won’t deny that it may not be an easy reality for all to accept. Many walked away from Jesus, and He asked his apostles whether they would leave also. That is why, despite the clear rationality of our faith, there still are aspects that are divine mysteries. Such as the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate this week and in every Mass ever celebrated. But such is our faith. For example, we could ask and meditate on why did the Son have to “consummate” the Father’s mission on a Cross? How did the violence of the Cross conquer death and how does God’s life and light and love shine through the Cross and through the wounds? Do we say, like Thomas, “my Lord and my God,” even when we cannot explain these mysteries, like the Ressurection, to our complete and total satifaction?

      • Kevin says:

        No, the question I am asking is “Why?” If the response is, as the overwhelming majority of Christians believe, that we must believe in God, I want to know why. The only responses I’ve received lean toward circular reasoning (basically that we need to believe in Him because He commands us to believe in Him), but I question the reasoning (and even existence) of such a commandment.

      • Kevin says:

        Pete,

        The people I am asking on behalf of are NOT asking for anything. Some might not even believe in an afterlife. I am asking of these people who attempt — to the extent any human is capable — to lead a Christlike life of love, forgiveness, compassion, and service will be denied what they have not asked for merely because they did not ask for it.

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        The answer to the why question is:

        Because God wants us to be like him. That, as I’ve been saying, is what heaven means: to share in God’s life.

        (And, yes, worship is part of what it means to be like God. The persons of the Trinity can be said to worship each other, i.e., to give themselves completely to each other in love.)

  3. kim says:

    Pilate was, according to folks who wrote about him from the political point of view, so cruel that he almost lost his job with the authorities of Rome.
    Why Luke’s gospel and later Christian understanding of him gets so “mellowed out” is puzzling to me.
    Gibson’s cinematic take on Pilate was odd — I seriously doubt that Pilate, given the strict demarcations of class/race/rank/distinctions, would have offered Jesus something to drink, or chatted with Him.
    Nor do I think Mrs. Pilate would have joined with Mary in a moment of feminine solidarity to wipe blood off the floor of the whipping space — even given the dream that she related to Pilate.
    “Crucified under Pontius Pilate”, we say in the Creed. The man had the chance to do something amazing, but…

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Kim – can you cite these “folks”? There are no contemporary writings associated with him, and the earliest are from two Jewish historians; Josephus and Philo (once again, NOT contemporaries) who were shall we say, less than sympathetic to Romans.

      • kim says:

        um, yeah, by “folks” who talked about Pilate, I meant Joesphus and Philo. I know they neither contemporaries of Pilate nor were fans of ancient Rome.
        But my beef, and the reason for posting at all, was not to talk happily about Pilate, but to muse on why portrayals of that uncool cat were so copasetic. Ya dig?

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Kim – I “dig” that you pretty much ask, answer, then re-ask your question as if it’s profound. The reason for the “mellowed out” portrayal by Christians is due to Luke’s gospel. And the reason for Luke’s gospel is because it is attributed to a contemporary (possibly plural) of the events in question. Josephus and Philo were Jewish “historians” who attempted to write and comment about events which had lead to/influenced their state of woe under Roman rule and to validate their existence and the very VERY bad personal decisions they had made which got them to that place.

      Anyway, re-read Anthony’s essay and you will get your questions answered yet again.

  4. Dave says:

    It seems to me that one could as easily argue that Pilate’s sin is in failing to protect the ideal of coexistence in the person of this nettlesome Jesus. Why give in to the zealots? Why not enforce live-and-let-live? Isn’t this what Pilate would do if he really believed in coexistence? The problem is not that he believes in coexistence, it’s that he doesn’t believe in anything—except self-preservation. And yes, this is us.

    I think your dismissal of coexistence is too facile, however. Although it can certainly be a dodge (as indeed Christianity can too), a lived belief in coexistence (just like a lived belief in Jesus Christ) would require self-sacrifice, and not sacrificing those who discomfit or threaten us.

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      Well, the problem, Dave, is that enforcing live-and-let-live would seem to involve coercive and even violent action against someone. If it has to be enforced, it’s not live-and-let-live.

      In this case, the answer to “why give in to the zealots?” is that not doing so means insurrection, not happy coexistence. The idea of “coexistence” as a guiding ethical principle that doesn’t require us to take a stand about what is true is the facile idea here.

      • Dave says:

        But I didn’t say anything about coexistence being happy or easy. Are we not required to love our enemies?

        And mightn’t “taking a stand about what is true” just as easily involve coercion? Indeed, hasn’t it often done so?

        Pilate gives in to save himself, and boy that sure hits close to home. Resisting would have required him to take a stand about what is true, yes. But couldn’t that truth have simply been that it’s wrong to kill those we disagree with? Or to condemn the innocent? Couldn’t that truth also be absolute, and uncompromising?

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        The exercise of state power always involves coercion to one degree or another. I think it’s best to be honest about that rather than claim some sort of neutrality while actually taking sides.

        Refusing to kill the innocent is a moral absolute, and it certainly would have been better for Pilate to stand up for such an absolute. Unfortunately, doing so might have required him to tolerate an insurrection, which doesn’t seem like “coexistence” to me. Seems more like “civil war,” which makes a decidedly less appealing bumper sticker.

        Ultimately, I’m saying that “coexistence” is an empty value. Those principles you suggest at the end of your last comment have content, which is why they raise other questions (what happens when some else tries to kill the innocent? what are our obligations then?) Those principles will require decisions to be made about what is right and what is wrong, and if one chooses what is right, then they will involve enduring real loss as well.

    • Kevin says:

      Tony, I would agree in a historic context, but the present day realities — specifically a nation with a separation of church and state — would lead the leader of a postmodern America to favor coexistence with positive results. In a government with a state religion, coexistence is inherently impossible. Pilate acted in the best interests of preserving his government, while ignoring the will of the people.

      Some things never change.

      • Qualis Rex says:

        Oh my goodness gracious! If this chap doesn’t agree with the gospel teachings about salvation, what in heavens would he think about “Unam Sanctam”?

        I…I feel faint.

      • Kevin M says:

        I don’t believe in the infallibility of popes. I don’t believe the Catholic church possesses any special connection to God/Jesus that other Christian churches do not. No popes in the Bible. No Catholics in the Bible.

      • Qualis Rex says:

        Kevin, you are sincerely ignorant and deficient of the both the bible and theology. The Pope is a bishop (episkopos) which is absolutely mentioned in the bible. The Catholic church is THE church begun by Christ when He invoked the father to send down the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It has an unbroken line of apostolic succession from that moment to the present day. The Catholic and Orthodox churches are the only ones to have this.

        If you are comfortable with being a member of a subjective “make it up as you go” church-of-one then that is your decision. But facts are facts (not that you seem particularly interested in them).

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        Without the popes (and bishops), no Bible. No other Christian denominations either.

  5. Qualis Rex says:

    ANTON!!! I LOVE THIS!!! And yes, I am MOST guilty of sympathizing with Pilate and I’m sure you know why,and do as well…(home team *cough*)

    And you hit it so beautifully here; he is pretty much the “every man”: he is nothing special, he has a bit of authority at a point in his life where he has the power to do good, he is interested in preserving the peace and he is simply not vested enough in what is going on around him to take a stand. Who DOESN’T sympathize with this?

    Well…my sophmore (lay) religion instructor at a Jesuit University (think Nathan Lane with a comb-over). He would get all worked up about how Pontius Pilate was really an evil tyrant and it was he who was responsible for killing Jesus–NOT the Jews…make no mistake on this (or risk failing his class). Not only is this historic revisionism (surprise!) but also goes against Catholic theology 101; the Jews WERE to blame for the crucifixion…as were the gentiles (i.e. all of humanity, due to our sin, ESPECIALLY the sin of omission).

    Once again, an astoundingly wonderful observation and essay.

  6. thereserita says:

    I guess you knew this post would violate the only commandment with which most of us are familiar: Tolerate or else! That’s why I’m putting it up on FB:-)
    Benedict XVI has spoken often of the human tendency to put “God in the Dock”, as C.S. Lewis says. Even in his homily of 4/21/11, the Pope says that we “need to learn again to accept God & Jesus Christ as he is, not the way we want him to be…We need the humility of the disciple who follows the will of his Master.”
    For the first half of my life, I kept God in the dock just because it was much safer for me. I didn’t have to change my outlook & my lifestyle which were at odds with what God teaches thru the Church. Happy to say, when I saw that, even in ‘the dock’, the Lord still looked at me with love & longing, I finally thought, “This is stupid. I am loved by God, for heavens sake!” & everything fell into place. Everything.
    So setting ourselves up to judge God & the way he’s chosen for us does not help us or the people around us or the people we think we’re advocating for or whoever. It just keeps us all farther away from love itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: