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M.S. Vat. Lat. 2639 - Miniated by Nicola da Bologna (1370)
Vatican Apostolic Library
 

THIRD STATION
Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke 22:66-71

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God." And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, "You say that I am." And they said, "What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips."

MEDITATION

The dawn of Good Friday is breaking from behind the Mount of Olives, after brightening the valleys of the desert of Judah. The seventy-one members of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish institution, are gathered in a semicircle around Jesus. The hearing is about to begin, and it will follow the usual judiciary procedure: the identification of the defendant, the bringing of charges, the hearing of witnesses. The trial concerns a religious matter which falls within the competence of that tribunal. This is also clearly seen from the two principal questions: "Are you the Christ? … Are you the Son of God?."

Jesus’ answer starts from an almost discouraging premise: "If I tell you, you will not believe; if I ask you, you will not answer." He knows, then, that incomprehension, suspicion and misunderstanding are in store for him. He can feel himself surrounded by a icy wall of distrust and hostility, all the more oppressive because it is erected around him by his own religious and national community. The Psalmist before him had experienced such disappointment: "If this had been done by an enemy, I could bear his taunts; if a rival had risen against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, my own companion, my intimate friend! How close was the friendship between us. We walked in together in harmony in the house of God"[6].

* * *

And yet, despite that incomprehension, Jesus does not hesitate to proclaim the mystery within him, a mystery which from that moment on will be revealed as in an epiphany. Using the language of scripture, he acknowledges that he is "the Son of man, seated at the right hand of the power of God." The messianic glory awaited by Israel is now manifested in this prisoner. Indeed, it is the Son of God who now, paradoxically, appears in the guise of one accused. Jesus’ response – "I am" –, which at first sight seems like the confession of a crime, is in reality a solemn profession of his divinity. In the Bible, the words "I am" are the name and title of God himself[7].

The accusation, which will end in a death sentence, thus becomes a revelation, and also our own profession of faith in Christ, the Son of God. That defendant, humiliated by a disdainful court, by the sumptuous courtroom, by a sentence already sealed, reminds us of our own duty to bear witness to the truth. A witness which must be forcefully rendered even when there is a powerful temptation to hide, to give up, to go along with the prevailing opinion. In the words of a young Jewish woman destined to die in a concentration camp[8]: "each new horror or crime, we must oppose with a new fragment of truth and goodness which we have gained in ourselves. We can suffer, but we must not surrender".


All
:

Pater noster, qui es in clis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
mater Unigeniti!

 


[6] Psalm 55(54): 12-15.

[7] Cf. Exodus 3:14.

[8] Etty Hillesum, Diary 1941-1943 (3 July 1943).

 

Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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