The French Bible scholar, Anne-Marie Pelletier, was chosen by Pope Francis to write the meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 14, 2017, presided over by the Pope at the Colosseum in Rome. We present here the text of the third station.
To read the meditations for the other stations here
Jesus and Pilate
From the Gospel according to Mark
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and the scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified (15:1.3.15)
From the Gospel according to Matthew
So when Pilate saw he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying: “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves!” (27:24).
From the book of the prophet Isaiah
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (53:6).
The Rome of Caesar Augustus, bearer of civilization, whose legions saw it as their mission to grant vanquished peoples the benefits of its just order.
Rome too was present at the passion of Jesus, in the person of Pilate, the representative of the Emperor, the guarantor of law and justice in a foreign land.
Yet the same Pilate who declares that he finds no fault in Jesus is the one who sanctions his death sentence. In the praetorium, where Jesus’ trial takes place, the truth becomes all too clear. The justice of the pagans is no better than that of the Jewish Sanhedrin!
Jesus, the Just One who mysteriously takes upon himself the bloodthirsty thoughts of the human heart, reconciles both Jews and pagans. For the moment, he does this by making them equally complicit in his death. Yet the time is coming, and is already at hand, when this Just One will reconcile them in another way, through his cross and the forgiveness to be bestowed on all, Jews and pagans alike, whereby both will be healed of their baseness and set free from their violent ways.
There is but one condition for receiving this gift. It is to acknowledge the innocence of the truly Innocent One, the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sin of the world. It is to renounce the inner presumption that murmurs: “I am innocent of the blood of that man”. It is to declare ourselves guilty in the confidence that an infinite love embraces everyone, Jews and pagans alike, and that God calls all men and women to become his children.
Lord our God, in looking upon Jesus, handed over and condemned to death, we can only attempt to excuse ourselves and accuse others. For all too long, Christians have laid the blame of your condemnation on the shoulders of your people Israel. For all too long, we have failed to realize the need to accept our own complicity in sin, so as to be saved by the blood of Jesus crucified.
Grant that we may acknowledge in your Son the Innocent One, the only innocent man in all of history. For he agreed to be “made sin for us” (cf. 2 Cor 5:21), so that through him you might find us once more, restored to the innocence with which you created us and in which you make us your sons and daughters.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?