“…he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd…” (Mt. 27:24)
I’m not a germaphobe, but I am a mother, and can appreciate the communal health benefits of proper hygiene. Aside from: “sit up straight,” “don’t talk with your mouth full,” and “wipe that look off your face or I’ll do it for you,” I’d wager the survey poll would place, “wash your hands” in the top ten of “Mom’s most frequent commands”. Something tells me, however, that in that infamous moment when Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death, a shout out to his mom with an act of proper hygiene was not the intention of the spineless procurator when Sacred Scripture tells us: “he washed his hands”.
So what was the big deal there? Why was it so crucial to note, amid this dreadful deicide proclamation, that the guy calling the shots decides to clean his hands? We know that it is only through the Holy Spirit and Divine Will that the Living Word of the Gospel was composed. There are no useless words added so we can deduce that the above quoted comment in St. Matthew’s Gospel has significant importance and relevance.
He washed his hands.
Through the truths taught to us in our Catholic faith we know this gesture performed by Pilate before the crowd is packed with meaning. To him, it was his attempt to make clear that although he believed in the innocence of the man, Jesus, he was going to go along with the will of the people. He would cave and give them what they wanted. But, by golly, it wasn’t going to be his fault!
How convenient. How spineless. How immoral.
To our Lord, this hand washing gesture was far more egregious. Why is this so offensive to Jesus? I think if we could truly see in horrific, bloody, graphic detail what our Savior looked like on the Cross, we might get a hint of the enormity—the resulting consequences when someone knows what is right, but does wrong anyway. What happens when people cave, when those in the position to correct a wrong wash their hands? Injustice wins. Truth is suppressed. Evil prospers.
Most everyone grew up learning the Bible story of Jesus. They understood, from a young age, the lesson taught through the example of that Roman governor. Each Lent we revisit the scene and shutter at the actions of Pontius Pilate. We see vividly on the Cross the ramifications of a person who refused to stand up for what they knew to be true, and decent, and right.
Which brings me to the subject of our modern-day politicians. I can’t help but be reminded these days when I see these high-profile, “Catholic” politicians—washing their hands in the sight of the crowd—when they state that, personally, they do not believe in abortion, or same-sex marriage, or transgenderism, or a bevy of other issues, but they cannot impose their beliefs on others. It wouldn’t be right, they say. They are speaking with forked tongues.
I would love to be able to call out to these political leaders and get them to see the shocking truth, the magnitude of the wrong they perpetrate. Look to the Crucifix and see what you are doing! I say this with great love in my heart for you, and I pray that God gives you the grace necessary to stand up against the pressure of a world clamoring to have its way. The people demand it, just like the Jews and their horrible cries against God, which even now hauntingly echo through the ages, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
You think you can escape from any responsibility when you side with this voice of the people over the Truth? Make no mistake, just like Pontius Pilate—who’s name lives in the infamy of sorry, spineless souls—there will be an accounting. You will someday stand before your Divine Judge and only then you will see the extent to which you offend God by your actions.
But this great injustice does not rest on a mere few. We must all open our eyes, and ears, and hearts to see what is Truth! The world would have us believe it doesn’t really matter. The end justifies the means. Oh, such a horrible, evil statement. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. Let us open our eyes wide and make a stand for what is right, and join hearts in prayer for Mercy and Truth in our broken, corrupt world.