Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 17 Year 1
“So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15: 15)
What a mess Pontius Pilot was. He had absolute power directly from the Emperor. Couldn’t he have just said “I find nothing in Jesus deserving the death penalty and so he is free to go”? Some theologians would argue that the crucifixion had to be. And so Pilot was doing what he was destined to do. But even with that, was it necessary to flog a man on death row?
As Pilot tried to avoid the execution of Jesus I don’t see him as an evil man. I do see him as a man without compassion. Today, here on the East Coast, we are awaiting the arrival of hurricane Dorian. It should pass this way today (Thursday). It has already devastated the Bahamas. Even before we come under the winds and rain of Dorian ourselves we are already putting together efforts of relief for the Bahamas. The Gospel is all about compassion. It shows us examples of what compassion looks like and what it does not look like.
Compassion is made manifest when we “become” the other. The Golden Rule applies. We must ask “would we want such and such done to or for us?” If not, then we shouldn’t do it to the other and if we do, then likewise, we do it for the other.
Crowd persuasion is an effective tool that too often guides us in the wrong direction. It was the crowd of Israelites that coerced Aaron into making a golden calf for worship in Exodus. We also have politicians today (on both sides) who stray from their own ideals in order to get elected or reelected. I say, be true to one’s self and let the people speak their own desires. If your ideals and the people’s desires align, great, if not, so be it, move on. This is probably why I’m not a politician. People-pressure works if one does not have a strong constitution. Whatever one’s constitution, it has to have a foundation. Our foundation as Christians should be compassion for others. There is a difference between having compassion for others and being pressured by others. We can look out for the welfare of others without letting them push us down the wrong path.
Poor Pontius Pilate, all he had to do was follow his own gut feelings and use his authority. How about us? Will we use the authority of compassion given to us by the Gospel in deciding how to treat others or will we be coerced into the group-think pressure of those around us?
We are the Church. And we know the hymn, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” We should act accordingly.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people. John+