Good Friday. The dramatic dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Jesus

— Le meditazione dei Padri de L’Isola di Patmos —

GOOD FRIDAY. THE DRAMATIC DIALOGUE BETWEEN PONTIUS PILATE AND JESUS

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The answer to Pilate's question "What is truth?Would really be the simplest: "The truth is the man you have in front of you, the Word of God. He is the truth”. On this Good Friday, let us adore the cross to commemorate all this, because it is on the cross that the truth is found, which is the answer to Pilate's question and to our question.

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Author:
Gabriele Giordano M. Scardocci, o.p.

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The 2 April 2020 the presbyter Antonio Livi returned to the Father's House, last exponent of the Roman School and co-founder of the magazine The island of Patmos whose Fathers remember him in prayer on this Good Friday

As a starting point for this reflection let's take the Gospel of the Passion of St. John the Evangelist (18,1 – 19,42)

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«Pilate then reentered the praetorium, he called Jesus and told him: “You are the king of the Jews?”. Jesus replied: “You say this for yourself, or have others told you about me?”. Pilate said: “Maybe I am a Jew? Your people and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”. Jesus answered: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jews; but my kingdom is not from here ". Then Pilate said to him: “So you are king?”. Jesus answered: “You say it: I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world: to bear witness to the truth. Whoever it belongs to the truth, listen to my voice ". Pilate tells him: "What is the truth?”».

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There are so many memories that emerge from every Good Friday. A special day from a spiritual point of view, liturgical and, not at least, from a purely human point of view. I have memories of when as a child, in a country of Sabina where I always spent my holidays, one Good Friday I left the house alone and walked along the paths that led to the town's parish. You could go it alone, without any danger. It was three o'clock and like every Good Friday the old parish priest, always in his impeccable cassock, in his steady but sweet gaze he initiated the celebration of the Lord's Passion, wearing a gorgeous and dramatic red planet. With the lay brotherhood of the Good Death who attended and many faithful who filled the church and helped in the liturgy. It had to be the 1992. Not many years ago. I remember how that liturgy was filled with something different, of sacred, of what years later in theological studies I would have known with the name of Sacred and Totally Other.

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I thank God for that Good Friday of 1992, when in silence I left the house and entered the church for that Liturgical Action. Perché forse fu la prima volta che mi resi conto sulla pelle del grande dono d’amore di Gesù. But beyond the memory of the first living and authentic encounter of the Christ suffering, today, which is no longer the 1992 and that I am a priest, albeit recently, that sense of Totally Other, to enter the drama of Jesus is even more vivid.

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On this Good Friday I wish to dwell on the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus. This is due to a number of reasons. I believe that in the figure and in the words of the Roman administrator, there are a number of facets and themes that concern all of us believers of the Catholic Church. Clerics, religious and laity. Because Pilate somewhat embodies the man of today. All of us today can see something of ourselves in Pilate. Huge civil responsibilities, administrative, social. And above all a discernment on the moral choices to be made. In both cases there is always little, very little time to decide. Making a discernment always and in any case full of voices that follow one another, of false witnesses and half-truths. We are a little’ all Pilate that we try to find out something about Jesus. But let's see his words and the Lord's answers.

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Pilate re-entered the praetorium, he called Jesus and told him: «You are the king of the Jews?». Jesus replied: "You say this to you, or have others told you about me?». The first word is a question for Jesus. To the letter it is a request for clarification of jurisdiction, to assess whether the man in front of him was actually taking the place of the Emperor. Pilate is aware of this. And he wants to go to the bottom. In this sense, he also wonders about the true nature of Jesus. The Roman administrator does not have the means to understand the mystery of Christ. He cannot understand neither the teachings nor the actions of that man who is accused. But he wants to understand what Jesus' true responsibility is. Pilate wants to understand what the place of Jesus is in his life. If you have to accept him as a man, as king or as someone else who still does not grasp.

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Pilate is above all the figure of the seeker of God. By it I mean a person who is growing in faith, who questioned his own atheism; he has an attitude of one who often asks Jesus “Who are you?? You are the king?”. The seeker of God also wonders what Jesus wants from his life. If his teaching is a philosophy, an ideology or an authoritarian Word. This is why Jesus replies to Pilate and to every seeker of God “You say this on your own or you have been told about me?”. It is a continuous reminder that Jesus offers us. To abandon the personal mental patterns or our dominant culture. We seek God first of all with an open heart. In a lively and authentic and life changing Encounter.

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Pilate said: «Maybe I am a Jew? Your people and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?». Jesus answered: «My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jews; ma il mio regno non è di quaggiù». The second word is a dry reply from Pilate. Seems a bit’ one of those things that are said just to mumble something in front of an unexpected phrase. But there is also a need to reflect on the fact that Pilate remembers that Jesus was handed over to him. As if the Roman administrator suddenly found himself in front of an unknown person of whom he knew nothing. Here is the difficult discernment to do. And this is a characteristic experience of the seeker of God. For him, as for all of us, Jesus is delivered and passed on by others. We rarely know him alone and never deepen his knowledge alone. There is always someone who talks to us about Jesus: culture, family, friends… The seeker of God lives this search of his as a community. For believers, in the Church.

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Finally Jesus replies that this is not his kingdom. It is neither of this world nor of here below. Another completely unexpected answer for anyone. So much so that now, Pilate, he has well understood that Christ is not playing hide and seek by leaving evasive words. He says something that escapes him. There is another kingdom, even stronger, more robust and solid even than the Roman Empire. There is a kingdom misunderstood by the members of the Sanhedrin who led Jesus to the authorities and the Romans. There is another kingdom, even stronger, more robust and solid even than the Roman Empire, intent on worshiping Augustus and the pagan Pantheon. Thus Jesus also today shakes the seeker of God. He tells him there is something that goes beyond immanence, political domination and money. There is a kingdom of Trinitarian light, that escapes human logic. Even the most believing and devoted of Catholics, si impegna ad entrare in quest’ottica di luce. But this is really difficult for anyone, so much so that Pilate, he is now without words, he replies. At that point she told him: "So you are a king?». Jesus answered: "You say: I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world: to bear witness to the truth. Whoever it belongs to the truth, hears my voice ". Sì finalmente ecco la rivelazione: Jesus is the king, but it is true of truth and charity. For this, to be a witness, martyr of truth was incarnated. This is how Christmas is also fulfilled, celebrated in the middle of winter. In the spring of the world, the spring of man begins. In Jesus Christ: listening to his voice it is possible to make the soul and the human spirit flourish. I'm not Augusto, Socrates or the philosophical schools to renew and give power to man: only the search for the Truth and the Power of Love of Charity, in welcoming Jesus who suffers from the Passion, they offer the definitive answer to the seeker of God.

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The closing of this passage from the Holy Gospel of John it is truly emblematic for our time: Pilate tells him: "What is truth?». This is the question of all of us. A question that, despite the constant prayer, continuous meditation, the continuous dialogue with God, always comes back. Sant'Agostino, commenting on this passage, however, he was able to tell us what Jesus' silent response is. In Latin: Quid est veritas? Si può anagrammare come una risposta: It is the man who is present. Yet the answer to the question "What is truth?Would really be the simplest: "The truth is the man you have in front of you”.

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This is the final goal. The seeker of God finally finds a solution. Real, authentic concrete. That man who suffers out of love for all humanity. He, it's the truth. On this Good Friday, let us adore the cross to commemorate all this, because it is on the cross that the truth is found, which is the answer to Pilate's question and to our question.

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Rome, 2 April 2021

Passion Friday of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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About Father Gabriele

Gabriele Giordano M. Scardocci Dell'Ordine dei Frati Predicatori Presbitero e Teologo ( Click on the name to read all its articles )