The Gospel of the Day – 2015.12.06 (Sunday)
The Historical Witness?
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
The understanding of history is a great tool. The Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities; with greater and lesser degrees of success.
The study of our tradition gave birth to modern historical criticism; without which, as a culture, we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever, and that took eighteen hundred years to develop.
Our stories, our narrative about the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith. It helps us to locate in time the singular moment when our cultural commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.
We remember the rule of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, and the Herod’s, and Pontius Pilate.
We recall the role that Pilate played in the killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried. This story is told unceasingly and without end.
It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.
John the Baptist taught us to repent, and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us to simply forgive.
Jesus forgave those who killed him he asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross.
It is time we do the same.
The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness cannot be received unless we do this.
God is the author of our salvation, but we are the agents. It is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be healed.
The Second Sunday of Advent