MEDITATION ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: The Requiring Of Barabbas III

DUCCIO di Buoninsegna 
Pilate's Second Interrogation of Christ (detail) 
1308-11
But the chief priests & elders stirred up the multitude, & persuaded the people that they should demand Barabbas and destroy Jesus: and when the multitude were come up, they began to pray Pilate, that he would do as he did always unto them. And the President answering said to them: which of the two will ye have dismiss unto us Barabbas: And Pilate answering again said to them: What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? But they cried out again, let him be crucified, crucify him, crucify him: but Pilate said unto them the third time: for what evil hath this man done? I find no cause of death in him: there for I will correct him, & dismiss him: but they urged with many cries, desiring, that he should be crucified, and their voices increased, and they cried more, let him be crucified.
Consider first, that the people inclining to Christ, were led by the Priests to demand Barabbas, and to destroy Christ: That thou maist know first, that one speech of wicked men doth more hurt, then many exhortations of Saints can profit. For that which Christ had built with great labor in three years, is here overthrown in a moment. Beware therefore of the speech of evil men, especially of heretics, whose words creep like a canker. Thou seest secondly, that the authority of Superiors is of great force, either to good or evil. If therefore thou hast any of Christs sheep under thy charge, use thy authority to the glory of God. 

Consider 2. The ingratitude of the people, which esteemed so great a Benefactor less then a Thief, and chose him to the Cross. Thou learnest first to contemn the applause of the world, which hath so cruel an end. They cried a little before Blessed is he, which commeth in the name of our Lord: and now in other words (Not this man) but Let him be crucified.) Secondly thou seest the blind judgment of the world, which contemning the highest good chooseth the worst things, hateth a benefactor, and embraceth an enemy. Take thou heed, least for a small gain or human favor, thou dost betray Christ against thine own conscience, least the same happen to thee, which fell unto the Jews, to whom instead of the Messiahs which they expected so many years, & at last rejected & condemned) came Barabbas (which signifieth the son of the Father) a Murderer, a Raiser of sedition, a Devil, by whose will they are ruled: that they which refused to hear Christ coming in the name of the Father, might hear Antichrist speaking in the name of his Father the Devil.

Consider 3. The fearful speech of Pilate, (What shall I do with Jesus): the wicked Judge seeketh the allowance of the people. Bend thou thy mind in all thy judgments and actions no to the will or manners of the people, but to the Commandments of God. 

Consider fourthly (For, what evil hath he done) the innocency of Christ, so often repeated: That thou mayst ever remember, that Christ died, not for his own sins, but for thine; this word shall condemn all sinners at the last Judgment. Why (will our Lord say) have yee forsaken me, and fled unto the Devil? For, what evil have I done? What have you found in my manners & Doctrine, that is not pure. And agreeable to reason? What evil have yee had from me, or what good have you found in the service of the Devil? Do thou now meditate upon these things, and preserve in the faith of Christ. Consider lastly, how these clamors did wound the heart of Christ,and how he was more grieved for this so great and heinous a sin of his beloved people, then for the torment of the Cross. Do thou comfort him with thy devote prayer, and forsaking the Devil and his pomps, yield thyself wholly a salve and servant unto Christ.

Fr. Coster

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