question: I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us, if thou be the Christ the Son of God ?i Our Saviour, in order to teach us that we should show respect to those who are in authority, breaks the silence he has hitherto observed, and answers: Thou hast said it: I am: and hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Hereupon, the impious Pontiff rises, rends his garments, and exclaims: He hath blasphemed! What further

! need have we of witnesses ? Behold! now ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? The whole place resounds with the cry: He is guilty of death !3

The Son of God has come down upon the earth, in order to restore man to Life; and yet, here we have this creature of death daring to summon his Divine Benefactor before a human tribunal, and condemning him to Death! And Jesus is silent ! and bears with these presumptuous, these ungrateful, blasphemers ! Well may we exclaim, in the words, wherewith the Greek Church frequently interrupts to-day's reading of the Passion: “Glory be to thy Patience, O Lord !”

Scarcely have the terrible words, He is guilty of death, been uttered, than the servants of the High Priest rush upon Jesus. They spit upon him, and blindfolding him, they strike him, saying: Prophesy! who is it struck thee ?4 Thus does the Synagogue treat the Messias, who, they say, is to be their glory! And yet, these outrages, frightful as they are, are but the beginning of whatour Redeemer has to go through.

But there is something far more trying than all this to the heart of Jesus, and it is happening at this very time. Peter has made his way as far as the court of the High Priest's Palace! He is recognised by the bystanders as a Galilean, and one of Jesus'

i St. Matth. xxvi. 63.
2 Idem, ibid, 64.–St. Mark, xiv. 62.

3 St. Matth, xxvi. 65,66.
4 St. Luke, xxii. 64.


Disciples. The Apostle trembles for his life ;-he denies his Master, and affirms, with an oath, that he does not even know him. What a sad example is here of the punishment of presumption! But, Jesus has mercy on his Apostle. The servants of the High Priest lead him to the place, near where Peter is standing; he casts upon him a look of reproach and pardon ; Peter immediately goes forth, and weeps bitterly. From this hour forward, he can do nothing but lament his sin; and it is only on Easter Morning, when Jesus shall appear to him after his Resurrection, that he will admit any consolation to his afflicted heart. Let us make him our model, now that we are spending these hours, with our holy Mother the Church, in contemplating the Passion of Jesus. Peter withdraws, because he fears bis own weakness; let us remain to the end, for what have we to fear? May our Jesus give us one of those looks, which can change the hardest and worst of hearts !

Meanwhile, the day-dawn breaks upon the City, and the chief Priests make arrangements for taking Jesus before the Roman Governor. They themselves have found him guilty; they have condemned him as a Blasphemer, and, according to the law of Moses, a Blasphemer must be stoned to death : but they cannot apply the law: Jerusalem is no longer free, or governed by her own laws. The power over life and death may only be exercised by her conquerors, and that in the name of Cæsar. How is it, that these Priests and Scribes can go through all this, and never once remember the prophecy of Jacob,—that the Messias would come, when the sceptre should be taken away from Juda ?1 They know off by heart, they are the appointed guardians of those Prophecies, which describe the death to which this Messias is to be put,--and yet, they are the very ones who bring

i Gen. xlix. 10.

it about! How is all this ?- They are blind, and it is Jealousy that blinds them.

The rumour of Jesus' having been seized during the night, and that he is on the point of being led before the Roman Governor, rapidly spreads through the City, and reaches Judas' ear. This wretched man had a passion for money, but there was nothing to make him desire the death of his Divine Master. He knew Jesus' supernatural power. He perhaps flattered himself, that He who could command nature and the elements, would easily escape from the hands of his enemies. But now when he sees that he does not escape, and that he is to be condemned to death,-he runs to the Temple, and gives back the thirty pieces of silver to the Chief Priests. Is it that he is converted ? and is about to ask his Master to pardon him? Alas! no: despair has possession of him, and he puts an end to his existence. The recollection of all the merciful solicitations made to him, yesterday, by Jesus, both during the Last Supper, and in the

Garden, gives him no confidence; it only serves to increase his despair. Surely, he well knew what a merciful Saviour he had to deal with! And yet, he despairs, and this at the very time when the Blood, wbich washes away the sins of the whole world, is about to be shed! He is lost, because he despaired.

The Chief Priests, taking Jesus with them, present themselves at the Governor's Palace, demanding audience for a case of importance. Pilate comes forward, and peevishly asks them : What accusation bring ye against this man?—They answered: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. It is very evident from these first words, that Pilate has a contempt for these Jewish Priests; it is not less evident that they are determined to gain their cause.

Take hin you, says Pilate, and judge him according to your Law. The Chief Priests answered: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.1

Pilate leaves the Hall, in order to speak with these men. He returns, and commands Jesus to be brought in. The son of God and the representative of the pagan world are face to face. Pilate begins by asking him: Art thou the King of the Jews ?To this Jesus thus replies: My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, my

. servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But, now, my Kingdom is not from hence.--Art thou a King, then ? says Pilate.Thou sayest, answers Jesus, that I am a King. Having, by these last words, confessed his august dignity, our Lord offers a grace to this Roman; he tells him, that there is something worthier of Man's ambition than earthly honours. For this, says Jesus, was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the Truth. Every one that is of the Truth, heareth my voice. What is Truth? asks Pilate; but without waiting for the answer, he leaves Jesus, for he is anxious to have done with this case. He returns to the Jews, and says to them: I find no cause in him.Pilate fancies that this Jesus must be a leader of some Jewish sect, whose teachings give offence to the Chief Priests, but which are not worth his examining into them; yet at the same time, he is convinced that he is a harmless man, and that it would be foolish and unjust to accuse him of disturbing the state.

Scarcely bas Pilate expressed his opinion in favour of Jesus, than a long list of accusations is brought up against him by the Chief Priests. Pilate is astonished at Jesus' making no reply, and says to him ; Dost thou not hear how great testimonies they allege

1 St. John, xviii. 29, 30, 31.

: Id. ibid. 33, 36, 37, 38.

against thee? These words are kindly meant, but Jesus still remains silent: they, however, excite his enemies to fresh fury, and they cry out: He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, even to this place. Thi word Galilee suggests a new idea to Pilate. Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee, happens to be in Jerusalem at this very time. Jesus is his subject; he must be sent to him. Thus Pilate will get rid of a troublesome case, and this act of courteous deference will re-establish a good understanding between himself and Herod.

The Saviour is therefore dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, from Pilate's house to Herod's palace. His enemies follow him with relentless fury; but Jesus still observes his noble silence. Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist, insults him, and ordering him to be clothed in a white garment, as a Fool, be sends him back to Pilate. Another plan for ridding himself of this troublesome case, now strikes the Roman Governor. At the feast of the Pasch, he had the power of granting pardon to any one criminal the people may select. They are assembled together at the court-gates. He feels sure, that their choice will fall upon Jesus, for it is but a few days ago that they led him in triumph through the City: besides, he intends to make the alternative one who is an object of execration to the whole people; he is a murderer, and his name Barabbas. Whom will you that I release to you? says Pilate: Barabbas, or Jesus, that is called the Christ ?--He has not long to wait for the answer : the crowd exclaim: Not this man, but Barabbas !What then, replies Pilate, shall I do with Jesus, that is called the Christ ?—Crucify him?—Why, what evil hath he done? I will chastise him, therefore,

i St. Matth. xxvü, 13.

9 St. Luke, xxiii. 5.

« ͹˹Թõ