It was about midnight when our Lord reached the palace of Annas, the high priest who, with the Pharisees who had assembled there, was impatiently awaiting the arrival of the detested Nazarene with feelings of malicious pleasure and bitter scorn. The Jews did right in bringing Christ to Annas. Legally, he was the high priest, and held that high office for life. The truth is that, after only some nine years in office, he was deposed by the Roman authorities. He had various successors, each of whom served but a short time until Caiphas came into Roman favor and took the office of high priest, a position, Josephus Flavius says, he purchased at a high price. This interloper Caiphas had occupied the position of High Priest for sixteen years when Christ was arrested.
It must be noted that Caiphas was the son-in-law of Annas – and that whenever, in Scripture, the two names are mentioned together, Annas takes precedence. Annas, therefore, was the leading figure in the conspiracy hatched against the Master, upon him primarily rests the crime of deicide.
For blind men to be fair critics of Michelangelo, for deaf men to be judges of the musical works of Verdi, for moles to be fair critics of sunshine would be more conceivable than the possibility of men like Annas and Caiphas being fair judges of Jesus Christ! How could such cruel, base sinners ever be able to understand the sinless Son of God made Man? Besides their bias, there was natural unfitness, their unfairness from the fact that they were desperate conspirators, plotting against the Messias to curry favor with the Jews and Romans.
Before this mock trial begins let us look at the Prisoner – Jesus Christ. See Him as He stands bound before His judges and the mob that had dragged Him from the Garden of Olives. He had gone through the horrible agony in the Garden of Gethsemani; He was weak and exhausted from the emotional strain of seeing on of His own followers betray Him to His enemies; He had seen His other friends desert Him; and he had been dragged through the streets to His mock trial. The Son of God who had been so faithful to the Mosaic Law was to be a victim of its nonobservance. You see, the Mosaic law prohibited trial by night or on the vigil of a festival day. Nevertheless, Christ was dragged before the tribunal in the very middle of the night: indeed the night preceding the great Jewish solemnity.
Honor with every power of your soul and body the great humility of Christ, the God of infinite greatness and majesty, who allows Himself to be arrested, bound, and led captive by the very men whom, but a few moments before, He had overthrown and cast on the ground by a few simple words from His lips. Honor Christ’s charity too – charity that placed Him a captive of the Jews in order to deliver you and me from the captivity of the devil – charity that thrust Him into prison to save you and me from the prison of Hell. Go to the gentle Prisoner of the tabernacle today; for He is right here our voluntary Prisoner, where He remains night and day out of the love for us. Ask yourselves if you have resembled those who arrested Christ, if you have ever taken our Lord out of His voluntary prison house in order, by your unworthy communion, to drag Him to Calvary and crucify Him anew?
*Reflection on the Passion by Father Doyle.