The first station
In the first station, Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death.
We are familiar with the condemnation episode. Saint John the Evangelist recorded it in writing for his own and for succeeding generations.
We remember the encounter between the Christ and the prefect. He saw no wrong in the Christ. He had him scourged and shown to the crowd.
“Behold the man,” we remember Pilate hollering. There was no pity for the God-man. When made to choose between the Christ and Barabbas, the crowd sought the latter’s release, and demanded the crucifixion of the Christ, for they, they said, recognized no other king but Caesar.
Pilate washed his hands of the blood of the Christ. On the tablet above the nailed Redeemer, Pilate ordered written the words “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
Does history repeat itself in our land? Are we Pilate today?
Drug dependents, activists, priests, farmers, policemen, lawyers, politicians, children are killed.
Are we not responsible for handing them over to the executioner? Do we not, in going about our daily lives as if all is well, wash our hands of the blood of the slain?
“I have no part in the blood of this man” echoes today in other words: “Death? That is the lot of troublemakers. If you are good and law-abiding, no harm will come to you.”
But we do not even know if the slain were guilty. All we have done is resign ourselves to the use of brute force to secure the peace, and in our blessing of the anti-sacrament of the gun, we continue to condemn the Christ to death over and over again.
A report from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
A Catholic bishop wants full investigation into the weekend slaying of 14 persons, including a church lay minister, in Negros Oriental province. Authorities said the 14 were killed while allegedly resisting to be searched for illegal firearms in separate operations in Canlaon City and in the towns of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina.
The joint army and police operations, they said, were part of the government’s campaign against loose firearms held by suspected members of the New People’s Army. Human rights groups, however, deplored the killings saying that the fatalities were farmers and not communist rebels.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos demanded further investigation into the incident, amid claims of human rights violations. “We demand a quick investigation on this and appeal to our government authorities to restore peace and order,” he said.
One the fatalities, he said, was a lay minister at Canlaon parish and its administrator “can vouch for his moral character.” “Others were not even shown the supposed arrest papers. Some of those killed belonged to our Mission Station in Masulog,” Alminaza said.
The bishop appealed to the authorities to ensure due process and human rights are respected in the conduct of their duties. “We don’t want to turn our beautiful island of Negros into a killing field!” he added.
Pilate washed his hands of the blood of the Christ yet in doing so effectively inaugurated the lynching of God incarnate. One concern sealed Pilate’s judgment: As the crowd said, he would be at odds with the emperor, the king, if he released a man who has apparently asserted a rival lordship. Pilate wanted to remain a friend of Caesar’s?
Whose friendship do we value so much we choose to abet by our silence this nationwide bloodletting? Who or what amounts to being our king such that we cling to it at the cost of our brothers’ and sisters’ lives?
First is pride at the root of a loyalty to leaders that plays blind to their shortcomings and that refuses to admit being mistaken in lending such leaders any support. Idolatry is Caesar.
Second is avarice. “It says: So what if killings happen day and night? Life is good. The economy is growing. Gross domestic product is consistently high. Inflation is falling. I can now enjoy the beautiful beaches of Boracay. The Pasig river has never been cleaner.” Personal comfort is Caesar.
Third is anger that dehumanizes fellow human beings. There are not even Filipinos anymore. One is a yellow or a red, a communist or a trapo (traditional politician), a yellowtard (Liberal Party supporter) or a Dutertard (supporter of the President), a drug lord or collateral damage. You should die, literally or figuratively, because you are any of this, because you are not human. Murderous rage is Caesar.
Will the first station always be like this? The crowd claimed the blood of the Christ upon themselves and their children. They did not know they did not have to claim it. It would be shed out of pure love for them and for all.
When will we wake up and see our continuing lives as invitations to repentance? We live not because we are faultless, or better than the ones who perished. We live so that we can right what is wrong in and around us. To keep washing our hands of responsibility for the death and devastation is to underline our self-condemnation.
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