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Photo: Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec 8 2011, St. Stephen Church



Monday, March 21, 2016

We Choose Barabbas


And the governor answering, said to them: Whether will you of the two to be released unto you? But they said, Barabbas. Pilate saith to them: What shall I do then with Jesus that is called Christ? They say all: Let him be crucified.

An interesting point to be made here is that the name Barabbas means son of the father (bar - son, abba - father). Barabbas is the notorious prisoner, a murderer and rioter. He is known to be guilty. Pope Benedict XVI in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, translates the word for those who called for the guilty son of the father to be released, thereby sentencing the Innocent Son of the Father to death, as crowd. We sentence Jesus to death every time we choose evil.

The School of Jesus Crucified presents the following meditation and reading for our benefit. The School of Jesus Crucified can be found online, for free, here.

Barabbas preferred before Jesus.

Meditation.

Pilate, finding no cause in Jesus and being
willing to save Him from His enemies, has re-
course to the expedient of offering the people
their choice between Him and Barabbas, who is
a man so hateful to all on account of his crimes,
that it does not seem possible they can for a
moment hesitate to ask the favour for Jesus
Christ

Consider —

I. The insult Pilate offers Jesus by comparing
Him with Barabbas.

Who is Jesus, and who is Barabbas ? Jesus is
the Eternal Son of God, the King of Majesty, the
Lord of Glory, the Creator of Heaven and Earth
and the Holy of Holies. It would be a grievous
insult to compare Him with the highest of the
angels, what then must it be to compare Him
with Barabbas, a rebel,- a thief, a murderer, and
a notorious criminal? How keenly must the
Heart of Jesus feel so ignominious a com-
parison ! What anguish must His Soul suffer
on hearing Pilate say to the people: — " Which
of the two will you have? Whom do you
prefer?  Whom do you love best, Jesus or Barab-
bas? And yet He joyfully submits even to this
disgraceful outrage. How often have you re-
newed this shameful comparison ? Whenever the
devil has tempted you to indulge in some sensual
pleasure, or the world has instigated you to take
vengeance, and you have been careless and luke-
warm in rejecting the temptation, being undecided
as to whether it were better to please God and
obey His laws, or indulge your evil passions, so
often have you compared God, the Sovereign
Infinite Good, to a miserable gratification and
vile pleasure. What an outrage to God ! What
an insult to His Majesty! Be ashamed of your
rash presumption, and weep over your sin.

2. The unjust preference given by the Jews to
Barabbas.

The Jews having heard the proposal of Pilate,
and being inflamed with rage against our inno-
cent Saviour, exclaim as one man, " Not Jesus
but Barabbas. They are well aware of the un-
sullied innocence of Jesus — they have been wit-
nesses of the sanctity of His life — they have
received infinite benefits from His hand, nay,
many out of that numerous crowd have been
miraculously healed by Him. And yet, though a
prodigy of injustice, there is not one man in all
that multitude who will ask for His liberation !
And the most generous of benefactors is set aside
for the sake of a wicked seditious man ! The God
of Majesty and Holiness is treated as nought in
comparison with a murderer ! Words can never
describe how deep a wound is inflicted on the
loving Heart of Jesus by the intolerable injustice
done Him on this occasion by His chosen
people. Compassionate Him in this His painful
humiliation, but pause and reflect also upon your
own conduct. The Jews are guilty in preferring
Barabbas before Jesus, but they committed this
enormous crime upon one occasion only, whereas
how many times have you exclaimed in your
heart, by consenting to sin, "Away with God
from my soul, give unto me the devil with that
wicked pleasure, or illicit gain, or that gratifica-
tion of my evil passions" You have preferred
the devil to Jesus whenever you have renounced
the service of God. You knew that Jesus was
your King, you believed Him to be your God,
you adored Him as your Saviour, and yet you
thus preferred an unclean and degrading sensual
pleasure before Him ! What more frightful in-
justice than this ? Detest your malice, force your
perverse will to retract its shameful determi-
nations, and resolve ever to prefer God before
all created objects.

3. The Jews having asked for the liberation of
Barabbas — thus proving that they set more value
on the life of a public thief, than on that of the
Saviour of the world, now demand with loud cries
that Jesus should be condemned, that He should
be put to death, that He should be crucified.

Who could have thought that this ungrateful
people would have reached such a height of in-
iquity as to desire the crucifixion of their King,
their Messiah, and their Deliverer — the Expecta-
tion of nations, whose presence they had so long
sighed for, and whom, but a few days before, they
had welcomed with acclamations as the Son of
God ? But who would ever believe that a Chris-
tian, so liberally loaded with favours, so tenderly
loved by Jesus, could commit so atrocious a crime
as to exclaim in his heart, Let Jesus die! And
yet such is your daily cry by the commission of
mortal sin. You say, not with your voice, but by
your deeds: — " Let sin triumph but let Jesus die! !
The loss of God I consent to, but not the loss of this
shameful pleasure. Let Jesus be crucified and sin
reign in my soul. Can any impiety or ingratitude
surpass this? Pilate says to the furious Jews :—
" But what evil hath Jesus done, that you wish
Him to die ?" And they persist in crying, " Let
Him be crucified" What evil has Jesus done
you," was the cry also of your conscience, " that
you are determined to offend Him ?" And yet
you obstinately persisted in sin, and in crucifying
Jesus. The only crime of Jesus is that of too
much love for us, His charity has induced Him
willingly to accept death for our sakes. His love
for you, and desire for your salvation, cause Him
to wait for you with such infinite patience, even
after all the outrages you have committed against
Him. Love so loving a God, thank so merciful a
God, and displease not so good a God anymore.

The Fruit.

Determine to avoid sin above every other evil-
Be careful and prompt in banishing bad thoughts
and the wicked suggestions of the devil, declaring
your firm determination of serving God alone.
Conceive a holy hatred against your flesh, your
passions, and your self-love, which have so fre-
quently caused you to offend God. Often say of
these enemies, " Let them be crucified and en-
deavour to crucify them by mortification.

Example,

There is nothing which may not serve to remind
the lovers of Christ Crucified of the sufferings and
death of their beloved Redeemer. The servant
of God, Sister Mary Minima, of Jesus of Naza-
reth, a Carmelite nun, was one Friday in March
sitting down to table, when she saw a little lamb
come into the Refectory, run towards her, and
take refuge in her arms. More was not required
to make her think of Jesus, the Lamb without
spot, delivered up by the furious Jews to the
bitterest torments and most ignominious death.
She was so much overcome by this reflection,
and so many tears flowed from her eyes, that she
was quite unable to take any food for the re-
mainder of the day.

Accustom yourself in like manner to take
occasion from everything to remember the suffer-
ings of Jesus.


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