Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Painting by Antonio Ciseri.
Magnificat of Terror (Luke 23: 20-25)

The Romans dragged him here and lashed him brutally.
We, a few women friends and I, we waited silent in the courtyard of the Antonia Fortress, as waited other families of the prisoners.

They pushed him out onto the judgment floor elevated above us and then pulled another beaten man to the other side of the trial platform.
His name is evidently Bar Abbas, as his family cries out, a family great in number: friends, parents, wife, sisters, brothers, and his children weeping to see him suffering so. “No, my abba,” cries out a small child’s voice.

Now, the Legionnaire’s game begins. They strut before the crowd. “You choose,” they mock, “you choose which one dies.”
“This one or this one,” grunts the leader, slapping his staff on their bleeding backs. There is only silence from those gathered there.
“Come now. Choose or both die.” Once more.
“This one or this one.” Again, silence.
“Once more,” the Roman shouts. “Last time. Decide or both die.” 
“This one or this one.” Again, a silence until at last one of Bar Abbas’ family murmurs and then screams as the staff is held over my son’s head. “That one. Crucify him.”

Others of Bar Abbas’ family join in to save their loved one. “Crucify him,” pointing to my only son.
So the “vote” is cast and Bar Abbas is shoved off the judgment platform into the waiting arms.
They cradle him because he cannot walk so weak and damaged is he from the beatings.  Carrying him out from the hated Fortress, one woman turns to look at me with agonizing eyes.

We all know of crucifixion. The road to Jerusalem’s gates is lined with crosses bearing suffering men, families gathered at the foot of them, Roman soldiers gaming nearby. The surrounding hills too are so decorated.
And all of those people who followed him, their precious teacher, all of those people who sang joyfully as he entered Jerusalem, and the Twelve he so loved: Where are they?

I must not ask, I know. They are where they belong with their families. For these are holy days for us. The Passover meal just passed last evening and the Sabbath preparation today.

They are where they belong, with their families. Others perhaps are in fearful hiding. But had they been here and we could have outshouted Bar Abbas’ family, we might have been able to scream “Crucify him. Crucify Bar Abbas.” To cry out even louder than the others. To win our dear one’s life at the cost of another.

But would my son have wanted such a thing?

(From: Miryam of Nazareth by Ann Johnson)

Jesus Before Pilate by Hieronymus Bosch

Ecce Homo (Caravaggio)

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