Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., " Christ Is Who He Said He Was"

The Roman governor of Palestine, one Pontius Pilate, found that he had to deal with a squabble among the Jews about their own law. The Romans tried the best they could to let the locals rule themselves. They reserved to themselves only cases that might cause greater problems, such as revolts or refusal to pay taxes. Both of these issues came up in the life of one Jesus Christ, who seems to have been particularly troublesome to the Jews for some reason. 
The Romans did not want to be caught up in religious controversy. It was all babble to them. If the Jews wanted to execute this man for some quibble in their own law, let them do so. But the Jewish leaders at the time tried to make Him out as an enemy of Caesar. 
Pilate examined the case but could find “no cause” that violated any important Roman concern. Christ did claim that He was a king but not in any political sense that threatened Roman rule. His kingdom, as He said to Pilate, was “not of this world.” Some people still want to make Him primarily a political revolutionary. 
But the New Testament has very little to say about politics. Indeed, it even says that there are things of Caesar, which seems but another way of saying what Aristotle said in his Politics, namely, that we can figure politics out by our own reasoning and experience. We do not need special revelation to do it for us. We can deal with those things that belong to our nature, though sometimes, often, our vices interfere. In any case, the Roman governor was satisfied that he could “find no guilt in Him.” 
 But he found himself boxed into a corner as the Jews could make it look back in Rome that Pilate was not dealing with a political threat. So in the end, Pilate washed his hands, in a famous scene. He let the Crucifixion, which the Romans reserved to themselves, go on under his authority. The special issue that comes up in the Trial and Death of Christ, of course, is who Christ was. In one sense, Christ and Socrates were both good men unjustly executed in their respective polities. The same issue arises: “Do those who are responsible for this injustice get away with it?” But Christ is not just another Socrates. 
In his Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI is careful to state exactly why Jesus is different. After all the evidence is in, after all the strands of interpretation have been exhausted, Christ is who He said He was. 
He was born into the world of a woman. He was the eternal Son of the Father. The world is different because of this event and fact.
Link (here) to the full article by Fr. James Shall, S.J.

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