— Feria Sexta post Dominicam Quartam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Eusebium —
The patient Christ broke His silence to answer the High Priest’s direct question couched in these words: “‘I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’ (Mt. 26: 63) To that question Christ replied: “‘I am. And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ But the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? And they all condemned him as liable to death.’” (Mk. 14: 61-64)
How audacious of Caiphas to dare ask the Son of God to answer him under oath! Yet Christ accepted the challenge even in the face of certain death and answered in the affirmative. And how was Christ’s testimony received? You must notice, if you study this scene casually, that it mattered little to Caiphas how Christ answered that question. When Caiphas asked the question “Art thou the Christ?” was he prepared to accept the evidence? Let us see. Naturally, our Lord could not lie, but suppose He had said “No!” In that case He would have been called an imposter and condemned to death as a blasphemer. But now, when He answered “I am” to Caiphas question, was there the least tendency on the part of the high priest to accept the testimony? No. Instead, Caiphas rent his garments and cried out that all had heard the blasphemy he heard and then proceeded to lead the Sanhedrin into calling for Christ’s death.
No matter how the gentle Christ had answered Caiphas’ loaded question, He would have heard the same outcry – “death to the blasphemer.”
Unfortunately, the closed mind did not die with Caiphas. Many people today are more like Caiphas than they are like Christ. They have assumed a spirit of opposition to evident truth, and thereby, preclude any evidence from producing a lasting effect.
Our Holy Mother the Church teaches us through the Holy Scripture and the living word of her priests that when we begin to love the world we begin to dislike religion. When we begin to worship money we cease to worship God as we should with our whole soul and all our strength. When we begin to love houses of pleasure we begin to dislike the house of prayer. When we seek godless, irreligious friends and companions, we soon find good people dull and boring. The testimony is evident and copious but we often close our minds to its force and, like Caiphas, we preclude the evidence in favor of prayerful, upright moral lives and gradually banish Christ from our lives, homes, and actions.
Christ spoke the truth in the answer to Caiphas’ question: “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the living God?” when He replied “I am”. Why do we doubt the truth of Christ’s words then when He says: “Unless you do penance you shall likewise perish;” (Lk. 13:3) or when He says: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you shall not have life in you;” (Jn. 6:54) or when He says: “Everyone that hath left house, or wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting?” (Mt. 19: 29) Caiphas had closed his heart so Christ’s words meant nothing to him. Have you closed your heart to Christ’s words? Do you listen to your conscience? Do you take lightly the inspirations aroused by sermons and pious reading? Mark well these words of God: “My Son, forget not my law, and let thy heart keep my commandments. For they shall add to thee length of days and years of life and peace.” (Prov. 3: 1-2)
*From Reflections on the Passion by Father Doyle