The Holiest week of the Catholic calendar began with Palm Sunday just a few days ago. When I woke up that morning, I discovered I had missed my Hot Pilates class, which has become my own form of religion, in a world lacking in spirituality. In need of a deeper connection to a higher order, I decided to go to church and pray. I am well aware that I don’t go to church often but I felt misguided by the superficial forces of modern world and believed that I needed the direction of biblical teachings.
In church, I followed along in the prayer book and listened carefully to the lessons taught by the Apostles. Having grown up with a Catholic School education I have heard the accounts of Easter ad infinitum, but each time you hear a story, read a book or watch a movie, you take away something different. This time I was struck by the Trial of Christ and how similar the context is to modern day society and our own political landscape. I realized that two thousand years have gone by and sadly, we haven’t evolved as a species; human nature hasn’t changed at all.
Parallels to the setting around the Judgement of Jesus has become commonplace on social-media today. While information rapidly flows, a net is cast in order to capture the insurgents who respond out of order. There is no tolerance for the contrarian view and if you fall out of consensus opinion you will be subjected to prosecution AND the proverbial crucifixion. Just like Pontius Pilate’s hand was forced by the mob, in today’s social context the masses try to dictate the outcome with a total disregard to what’s fair and what’s right.
When Jesus was brought to Pilate, a large crowd of people, chiefs, and elders had gathered. Pilate announced to them that he did not find Jesus guilty of any of the charges against Him. Pilate therefore wanted to release Jesus but the priests and the elders stirred up the crowd and pressured Pilate to release another prisoner instead.
Pilate repeated again his desire to release Jesus and asked the crowd once more "What evil has He done? I have found no crime deserving death; I will therefore release Him." The crowd objected so Pilate asked them again "Then, what shall I do with Jesus, Who is called Christ?" The crowd shouted, "Let Him be crucified! Crucify Him! Let Him be crucified!"
Jesus never stood a chance to have a fair trial. He was already convicted in the court of public opinion and the threat of mob violence was a foreshadowing undertone. As human beings we observe the Passion of Christ with compassion and sorrow but as Catholics we observe the Passion with guilt because we know that we too would have condemned Jesus.
As we look back in time, we believe that as individuals we would have risen to the occasion and heroically stepped in to change the course of history. When studying atrocities towards humanity we believe that if faced with a moral dilemma we would do the right thing and save the innocent. In reality however, most of us would keep our heads down and follow the crowd. Some of us might even lead in the lynching.
When you have built your life around accommodation in everyday events, it's nearly impossible to suddenly find one's integrity in a crisis. Pontius Pilate let the priests and the elders menace to his relationship with Caesar force his abdication of the authority Caesar granted him; then publicly re-asserted it once the threat passed. Practicing integrity and courage in everyday events assures that we will fall back on those practices in times of crisis while individuality and independent thought will best steer us away from forming a mob mentality.
I left church on Sunday with a greater sense of calm and some profound lessons. I do believe that while the events of the scriptures were written thousands of years ago their teachings can apply today. When I came home from church, I continued with my weekend routine, which included catching up on social media. But after Sunday’s sermon, I took a pause and really thought twice before I tweeted.