+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: THE 15 Meditation Of The False Witnesses Inn The House Of Caiphas
Green Passion: Christ before Caiaphas
But the chief Priests, and all the council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death, and they did not find it, where as many false witnesses were come in. For many spake false witness, and their testimonies were not convenient. But at last came two false witnesses, and rising up they gave false witnesses against him; for we heard him speaking: I will destroy this Temple of god, made with hands, and after three days I will build another, not made with hands, and their testimony was not convenient.
Consider first when the high Priest could draw nothing worthy of death from the words of Christ, then he asked the standers by, who had been often at his Sermons, and every one spake that, which they though might help to condemn him, and were very earnest and desirous to find out some capital crime, according to that saying: They searched for iniquities, searching they fainted in their search, they invented councils which they could not establish.
Consider secondly the purity of the life of thy Lord, which was so great, that it was hard to frame such a lie of him, as might carry any color of truth, even by the testimony of his adversaries themselves. Learn thou first to accuse no man unjustly; For a Detractor and false witness are bound to restitution of good name. Secondly to avoid all lies: For a liar cannot please even the wicked. Thirdly according to the example of Christ to live in such order that the very enemies of Faith, may find nothing in thy life to object against thee, but considering thee by thy good works may glorify God our Father. Fourthly never to seek out reasons against thy conscience to excuse thy sin: For those testimonies are false, and not convenient, whereby God is not deceived, nor thy Conscience pacified.
Consider thirdly these two false witnesses standing up amongst the rest, whose testimonies are especially related, either because they were of greater moment, that by them thou tightest know the vanities of the others, or else because they contain the mysteries of the death of our Lord, which was then in handling. But they were not convenient: First because the witness could not agree together, the one saying (I will destroy) and the other (I can destroy) Secondly because our Lord had spoke no word of destroying and building again; but he said (dissolve) and I will raise) speaking of his death, and resurrection. Thirdly because he had hurt no man. if he had restored in three days, that, which he had destroyed. Fourthly because it seemed not to be beyond his power, who had raised Lazarus from death after he had been dead four days. Fifthly because such kind of bragging words seemed rather worthy of laughter and contempt then of death. Learn thou first not to wrest the words of Christ to a contrary sense: Secondly not to relate any thing otherwise then it was done: Thirdly never to judge evil of the mind or intention of others, when their words or deeds may be well interpreted. Do thou also suffer together with thy Lord Christ, for whose death and destruction so many men took so great pains; and pray unto him, that thou mayest be instructed in the true understanding of the Scriptures, and that he will never suffer thee to fall into heresy.
And the high Priest rising up in the middest of them, asked Jesus saying: Doest thou answer nothing to those things? which these men object against thee, and whereof they bear witness, against thee? but Jesus held his peace; and answered nothing. Again the high Priest said: I admire thee by the living God that thou dost tell us, if thou art Christ the Son of our blessed God?
Consider first, when nothing was found worthy of accusation, which might seem as a fault to be objected before Pilate the Gentile President, the high Priest being angry, invented certain questions, to the end that he might gather some things from his answers. His own conscience informed him, that nothing of any moment was alleged: Yet he urged those things which he knew to be false.
Consider secondly that Christ held his peace, both because he knew, that his conscience did answer all those things, and also because he would not avoid death by his eloquence. He teacheth the first to contemn all injuries and lies, & to suffer them patiently, partly because, though perhaps thou art not guilty of those things, which are objected against thee, yet thou hast offended God in many things, whereof no man accosted thee; and partly because thou art never the worse, because other men think thee to be evil, For every one is such as he appeareth to be in the sight of our Lord. Secondly not to think them worthy of an answer, which do offer wrong; because their own conscience doth reprove them.
Consider thirdy what our Lord did when he held his peace. For this (saith he) That they should love me, they did detract from me: but I did pray. He prayed then that the fruit of his Passion might pass unto thee: Therefore in every trouble of thy mind convert thyself unto Christ; For it cannot be that he remembering this unjust accusation, can be unmerciful unto thee in thy troubles, & false accusations.
Consider fourthly, that the high Priest evil interpreting this silence of our Lord, did use adjuration in these words (I adjure thee) or as the Greek test is (I conjure thee) which word is used in the conjuration of Devils. Mark here whom thy Lord is accounted to be, to wit, one obsessed of a devil.And the high Priest by his conjuration demanded two things. First whether he be Christ, that is to say, the Messias promise in the Law? Secondly, whether he be the Son of God? For therefore was he put to death because he was Christ: and therefore he redeemed mankind by his death, because he was the Son of God, that is to say, of equal Majesty with God the Father.
Jesus said unto him, thou hast said: I am; but I say unto you, hereafter yes shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of Heaven.
Consider first, that Christ being adjured by the name of the living God, did hold his peace no longer, both because he would not seem to avoid death by holding his peace, and also that thou shouldest always reverence the name of God. (Thou hast said,) That is, so it is, as thou hast spoken, and as thy conscience doth witness unto thyself.
Consider secondly, that he made mention of the Judgment to come in the words of Daniel. First that he might take away the jealousy of his affecting a Kingdom, because he sought not an earthly but a heavenly and eternal Kingdom. Secondly that they should abstain from this evil judgment, for fear of the judgment to come. Learn first in all thy actions to remember thy last end. Secondly in all accusations to have patience, because power shall be given thee to Judge thy accusers, and those which have afflicted thee. Thirdly always, but especially at the end of thy life, to confess a truth, even though it be great loss both to thy body and goods. And pray thy Lord, that he will strike thy flesh with wholesome fear, and inflame thy heart through the Meditation of his Passion.
Fr. Francis Costerus S.J. 1616