IN his book, “Imitation of Christ,” Thomas a Kempis wrote “He who knows how to suffer will enjoy much peace. Such a one is a conqueror…and lord of the world… and an heir of heaven.”
These words aptly describe Christ in his last days on earth. As the Lord stood before Pontius Pilate, a man well versed in law and justice, his accusers—blinded by intense prejudice and irrational hatred--raised unfounded accusations against him. Pilate, though not the best of men, saw the malice in all their charges. When he asked Jesus, “Are you their Messiah—their king, Jesus rightly answered, “Yes, it is as you say.”(Luke 23:3-4): For this reason Pilate turned to the chief priests and the mob and clearly said, “So, that is not a crime!”(Luke 23:4) The Jews, however, were not appeased.
Learning that Jesus was from Galilee Pilate had to send Jesus to Herod hoping his rival could do something about the case. After subjecting Christ to mocking and ridicule Herod found that “nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty.”(Luke 23:15)
As Jesus stood once more before Pilate’s court, the Roman governor gave his verdict, “I have examined him thoroughly on this point [under the accusation of leading a revolt against the Roman government] and find him innocent.”(Luke 23:14) In order to satisfy the Jews’ lust for blood Pilate had Jesus scourged.
The third confirmation of the Lord’s innocence came from the Good Thief who reprimanded the thief who taunted Jesus while hanging on the cross beside Jesus. Dimas, the good thief, declared, “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man has not done one thing wrong.”(Luke 23:41)
Lastly, the Roman centurion who witnessed the ghastly execution at the cross “was stricken with awe before God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”(Luke 23:47)
Although recipient of a cruel and unjust sentence Jesus magnanimously and sincerely forgave, proving that forgiveness or mercy is the perfection of divine love. Shortly before he died he exclaimed, “Father, forgive these people, for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:34) He forgave all: the Jews, Pilate and Herod who surely knew what they were doing. His forgiveness goes beyond space and time to include all.
St. Theresa of Avila wrote these consoling words,
“Let nothing disturb thee, nothing frighten thee;
All things are passing; God never changeth:
Patient endurance attaineth all things;
Whoever possesses God in nothing is wanting;
Only God sufficeth”(Dios solo basta.)