Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” Matthew 26:57-68
One of the things I have learned in my life is that there is real danger in demonizing people who we disagree with or who are different. It is too easy to find half-truths to fit their rejection. I have seen so many people in so many lovely communities turn on others, in what began as a difference of opinion, and turn that into a reason for shunning and rejection. So many church communities have come apart when good people find themselves in different corners. We are all more like caged animals when we are backed into a corner. Life always finds us in times of rough spots, when things are scary and uneasy, but I also found prayer and forgiveness was a better response than rejection. We need each other too much.
Jesus was in a rough spot. Lies were being told and none of his followers were asked for their insight. The powers that be had demonized him, and were finding reasons to give them an excuse to get rid of him. The evidence was overwhelming of his love, compassion and healing. He cared for and ministered to the common folks and that was a threat. Faith has no part when a person becomes a threat to the power structure and the way life has been. Fear of loss plays a big part in many of our arguments and divisions. Jesus came to heal and make new. We are often, as humans, afraid of change and new vision. No matter how obstinate, angry and fearful we are, God promises to be in the midst of our roughest places. Faced with death and ridicule, Jesus was not abandoned by God, and we are never abandoned by God either, no matter how awful the circumstances might seem.
Today, I ask God to help us all be emissaries of God's peace. Today I offer the well-known prayer of St. Francis which invites us all to enter the darkest places with prayers and faithful expectation of God's loving presence with us always.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.