Prayer intentions
Please pray for the following people. And if you know someone who needs a prayer, by all means feel free to add as many names as you want.

March 19, 2008

Look to it yourself

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, and during Mass we read the entire story of Christ's Passion. One of the phrases that stuck in my mind as we read it, became the title of this post - Look to it yourself. This phrase showed up twice in quick succession, which is probably why it stuck with me.

The first time it appears, Judas has suddenly realized how badly he's screwed up, and is going back to the priests who paid him to betray Jesus to return the money and hopefully undo the damage he's done. He pleads with them, and says, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." To which they reply, "What is that to us? Look to it yourself."

Second time the phrase appears, it is being spoken by Pontius Pilate. Pilate, the Roman governor, has examined Jesus and has determined to his own satisfaction that Jesus is not guilty of anything, and is trying to release him back to his people. The custom is, he can set a prisoner free during the traditional Passover feast. He is trying to make the choice easy - do you want me to release this notorious robber Barabbas, or do you want me to release this man Jesus, who's done nothing wrong? The crowd is being stirred up by the priests to get Barabbas released, and they were starting to get violent.

So, in the words of Matthew 27:24-25, When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood. Look to it yourselves." And the whole people said in reply, "His blood be upon us and upon our children."

In each case, there is a party trying to relieve themselves of responsibility by dumping it on someone else, who is equally responsible. In the first case, the priests even acknowledge after Judas flees the temple that the money is the price of blood, but they are so wrapped up in their priestly duties that their only concern is more about what is the "lawful" thing to do with the money. In the second case, there is someone who has a good instinct about what should be done, and even makes a certain effort to do the right thing; but in the end, he too falls back on "just doing his job."

This recalls to mind the parable of the good Samaritan, which seems in hindsight almost to foreshadow His crucifixion. In the parable, the priest and the Levite both pass by the robbery victim. Eventually it fell to a Samaritan (Samaritans being a race of people considered in those days little more than a pack of criminals themselves), who picked the man up and cared for him, tending his wounds and seeing to his safekeeping. The question remains, though: whose responsibility was it to care for the robbery victim?

The answer: all of them.

Whose responsibility was it to ensure that justice was done during the Passover feast those two millennia ago? Everyone.

If we repeat after Pontius Pilate and those long-ago priests by saying, "Look to it yourself" - in other words, "So what? It's not our problem, it's your problem now" - we run the risk of re-crucifying Christ, metaphorically if not literally. What we do to those who need help the most, we do it to Christ.

NB - yes it has been a long time since I posted. We'll see if I can post again a little sooner than another 8 or 9 months.