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Reflections on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Part 2

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

 Third Reflection

“And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people took counsel against Jesus, that they might put Him to death.” (Matthew 27:1)

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The Jewish people yearned for the coming of the Messiah. However, when He did come, they persecuted Him. He performed miracles and the people applauded. But the priestly class, which was the highest political class, was afraid: “Who is this Man that has won the people’s enthusiastic favor? What will happen to our power? He is a danger to us!”

 

In a method often used today, the persecution began with calumnies and twisted questions designed to trap, questions contrived in the laboratory of insincerity.

 

The first and greatest of all revolutions broke out during Holy Week. A revolution is, by definition, a revolt of those who should love and obey but, instead, choose to rebel against legitimate authority. Our Lord possessed every possible degree of power and authority over the human race. The mission of the Jews was to acknowledge Him as the God-Man and submit to His sweet rule. They did the opposite. They neither acknowledged Him, nor admired or submitted to Him. And this disposition of soul was due to bad will and envy. They did not want His Law because they were corrupt and Our Lord taught austerity. They revolted and killed Him. The revolution of Holy Week was the greatest of revolutions because rebellion against such high authority cannot happen again.

 

May the thought of our scorned Redeemer fill us with adoration and compassion for Him, as well as indignation against the revolution that led to His crucifixion.


Fourth Reflection

“And they brought Him bound, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 27:2)


Pilate was a governor without a backbone. Although he knew the multitude would not resist the Roman soldiers, and therefore could count on an easy, brilliant victory, he absolutely did not want to use force to do what was right and just.


Instead, Pilate entered into dialogue with the mob and proposed, “Whom do you want me to release: Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17)


Barabbas was a notorious head of a seditious band of rogues. He was the worst possible criminal, filled with dishonor and evil. Jesus was the utmost symbol of dignity and represented the best in the Jewish people. He was a descendent of David, the most eminent figure of the Old Testament. He had done only good to everyone.

 

Centrist that he was, Pilate thought that the Jews would never prefer Barabbas to Jesus. He did not understand that when men do not follow Jesus, they necessarily choose Barabbas. Pontius Pilate only condemned Him because of the political maneuvering of the priests. They told him, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend.” (John 19:12) It would have been easy for Pilate to defend himself against this accusation. However, faced with the possibility of losing his office as governor of Judea, Pilate cowardly had Jesus killed.

 

As a result of his vile ambition, Pontius Pilate committed the greatest injustice of history.

 


 

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Go to:  Part III

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 19, 2019

It is better to say one Pater Noster (Our Father) fervently...

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November 19

 

It is better to say one Pater Noster (Our Father) fervently and devoutly
than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.

St. Edmund the Martyr


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Nerses I of Armenia

King Arshak mixed poison with the Lord's Holy and Divine Bod...

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St. Nerses I of Armenia

Born of royal descent, Nerses was the son of At'anagenes and his mother was the sister of King Tigranes VII and a daughter of King Khosrov III. His paternal grandfather was St. Husik I whose paternal grandfather was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted the Armenian king to Christianity and became the first Patriarch of Armenia.

Nerses spent his youth in Caesarea and married a Mamikonian princess named Sanducht, who bore him a son, St. Isaac the Great. After his wife's death, he was appointed chamberlain to King Arshak of Armenia, but entered the ecclesiastical state a few years later. In 363, despite his protest of unworthiness, Nerses was consecrated Bishop of Armenia.

He was greatly influenced by St. Basil and, in effort to bring better discipline and efficiency to his diocese convened the first national synod in 365. He encouraged the growth of monasticism and established hospitals. His good deeds and promotion of religion angered the King, who was later condemned by Nerses for murdering his wife Olympia. It is said that Arshak mixed poison with the Lord's holy and divine Body, the Bread of Communion, and administered it to her, killing the queen in church.

Arshak died in battle against the Persians shortly thereafter. Nerses discovered that Pap, the king’s successor, was more ungodly than his predecessor. On account of his sinfulness, the holy man forbade Pap from entering the church until he repented of his ways. Angered, Pap feigned repentance and invited Nerses to dine at the royal table where he poisoned and killed him in 337.

Photo by: Adelchi

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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