“’Crucify him.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Why? What evil has he done?’ They only shouted louder, ‘Crucify him.’” (Mark 15:13-14)
If you were present at Jesus’ trial, where would you see yourself? Would it have been with the disciples who were absent out of fear? Would it have been with Pontius Pilate who found no basis for the charges brought against Jesus, but did not have the courage to resist the crowd? Would it have been with the crowd shouting, “Crucify him?”
If I had never met Jesus, I might have been with the crowd. Have I not demonstrated my lack of support for Jesus in my sins? Have I not denied him in my failure to love and serve others on various occasions?
Even if I had met Jesus, I might have been no different than the disciples who were hiding, or like Pontius Pilate, going along with the crowd. How many times have I failed to speak up for Jesus or my Catholic faith in a hostile environment?
Unfortunately, the crowd seldom gets it right. How often do we see conventional wisdom that is not wise, popular opinion that does not reflect the truth, and consensus that leads to the wrong result?
Lest we think that the opinions of the crowd are not becoming more hostile to our Christian faith, a study by the Barna Group last year found that sixty-six percent of pastors considered the “culture shift to a secular age” as their most important concern.
So, how do we resist the crowd of our culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to the practice of our Christian faith? Acknowledge and repent of our sins, commit or recommit our lives to Jesus Christ, and seek the release of the power of the Holy Spirit received in our baptism.
It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us, gives us the courage and the power to resist both the crowd and sin. It wasn’t until I personally experienced the renewal of the Holy Spirit in my life that I was given understanding, motivation and power that makes it now possible for me to resist the crowd. I am still capable of stumbling if I don’t stay close to Jesus in daily prayer, the sacraments and surround myself with other like-minded Christian brothers and sisters. But with God’s grace and mercy through the Holy Spirit, I am better equipped to say no to the crowd and yes to Jesus.
The crowd yelled, “Crucify him!” But the crowd got it wrong. God redeemed the wrong and took the cross, a symbol of Roman cruelty and oppression, and transformed it into a symbol of love, sacrifice and hope.
What person would you be at Jesus’ trial?