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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: April 14, 2017
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Friday, April 14, 2017.
Most of the people who called for Jesus’ death were good people who really did think he was guilty. The crowds only had second-hand information, but they really were convinced that he had broken the law against blasphemy, a capital crime in Jewish law, and so should be executed.
The same was true for the religious authorities, some of whom felt the need to trump up charges of insurrection, a capital crime in Roman law, to get the death penalty carried out, but in their mind this was just a case of the ends justifying the means.
They sincerely believed that Jesus deserved death in Jewish law so they used a false charge in Roman law to get that accomplished. The only one directly involved in Jesus’ death who had a reason to prevent the execution and the power to do so was the governor.
Jesus extends his arms to show us how much he loves us and that there is nothing we can do — not even terrible deeds — that would cause us to forfeit his love.
Pontius Pilate knew this was about revenge — Jesus’ message was too challenging for some of his adversaries — but Pilate was afraid of the political and social fall-out if he didn’t do what the crowd wanted: “If you release him, you are not a friend of Caesar.” So he handed Jesus over to death.
We are no different than the crowd that called for Jesus’ death because we continue to call for the death of criminals.
We forget about Moses, who murdered an Egyptian and fled to Midian, which is where he had his encounter with the burning bush. If God could use a murderer to set his people free and lead his people to the Promised Land, then there is hope for everyone … like the good thief hanging on the cross by Jesus’ side.
Wouldn’t he have been a good candidate for rehabilitation? This is also true for us. Jesus extends his arms to show us how much he loves us and that there is nothing we can do — not even terrible deeds — that would cause us to forfeit his love.
His very nature is love and so, though he is all powerful in every other respect, there is one thing that even as God he is unable to do, and that is: stop loving. He doesn’t give up hope on us or anyone else and neither should we. Jesus gave up his life to set us free!