“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was about to occur, he took some water and washed his hands in full view of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility.” After Jesus had been scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:24,26)
V. We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you:
R. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
In the first station we see Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea, sentencing Christ to death. This took place at a paved area outside his headquarters. Christ was then led away to be crucified. Pilate, for his part, washed his hands as a symbol of avoiding blame for the murder.
Pilate had condemned Christ to death under pressure from the chief priests and the crowd, who were shouting, “Crucify him!” Yet, it is important to remember that his death was not just their responsibility, or Pilate’s, but ours too. We are the reason he was crucified – “he was handed over to death for our sins.” (Romans 4:25)
During this travesty of justice, Christ mostly remained silent. This prompted Pilate to say to him: “Are you refusing to speak to me? Do you not realize that I have the power to release you and the power to crucify you?” (John 19:10) Yet, Christ refused to talk himself out of the situation, to stop the injustice, to prevent his death.
O Jesus, you did not come to judge the world – but the world judged you. By your silence before Pontius Pilate, help me to bear wrongs patiently. Through the cross, you loved me and gave your life for me; in gratitude I will live my life for you. (Galatians 2:20)
Sign from the Old Testament
The Book of Wisdom speaks of Christ’s unjust death sentence (Wisdom 2:12-20).
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Burns & Oates / First Station of the Cross / Opus sectile / Early 1950s / Sacred Heart, Camberwell