Day 18: Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
Pilate will famously ask Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilate has maneuvered Jesus to admit that he is a king (when Jesus answers “My kingship is not from this world”), though Jesus goes on to say: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Thus Pilate’s question.
Pilate lives in a world of power. He will take advantage of this moment to show his power and humiliate the Judean leadership by calling Jesus “the king of the Judeans” and saying he is innocent. He will taunt their powerlessness when he tells them to “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” since they have no such power and to do so would be an act of rebellion against Rome with consequences that make them cower. But they will accuse Pilate of not being a “friend of Caesar,” and Pilate gives up his game. One innocent Galilean is not worth risking such a report to Rome.
Jesus is not building a kingdom from this world of power. Jesus bears witness to the truth – not the truth of facts like two plus two is four or the might of Roman armies, but the truth of our existence. What does it mean to be a human being? What is the life to which we are called? What is the nature of the guiding heart of the universe?
Standing before Pilate is the embodiment of such truth: the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Sacrificial love. Recognizing all people as sisters and brothers of a single human family. Showing faithfulness to them all – ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ alike.
The Spirit of God that is breathed upon us in the waters of baptism will guide us “into all the truth”, into the fullness of truth, into this truth who stands before Pilate and will stand before Mary Magdalene, the disciples, and the world with wounds in his hands and his side – signs of human shame and God’s perfect love.
in the waters of baptism you anointed us with your Holy Spirit.
Stir up within us your Spirit
and lead us this day in paths that are holy and true.
– A prayer for the third week of Lent
(For the reflection on this week’s theme: “Baptism & the Holy Spirit”)