Christ and Pilate

(It’s a new month, so time for a new story. What follows is fiction. I used the literary device of an archaeological find, but it is fiction entirely from my meditation on the Crowning of Thorns. This is NOT definitely what happened with Pilate, but merely my meditation on what MIGHT have happened with him. The historical events described prior to Pilate’s departure from Jerusalem are largely taken from the histories of Josephus, though I have used some less reliable ancient historians for sources, as well. Actually, Pilate vanished into the mists of history after his departure from Jerusalem. Most think he receded from view somewhere in Gaul, rather than in the tiny of town of Pyrgi, as I have set him here.

Please enjoy this little tale. Let it give you food for contemplation. If you comment to tell me that this mystic or that saint imagined it differently, you might be missing the point. There are a multitude of such speculations. We are called to enter in, to ponder the Mysteries of the Rosary. That is what I do with these little stories. I invite you to do the same – and I won’t be the least bit upset if your imaging differs from mine.-CJ)

By Charlie Johnston

The document that follows is a letter from a collection of parchments found sealed in an ancient vase. It was discovered in the modern-day Italian City of Velletri. The collection apparently dates to the reign of Claudius Caesar and was probably hidden during the tumultuous and destructive reign of Nero. It is written in Latin with a generous sprinkling of Aramaic phrases. If authenticated, its significance is obvious. From internal clues, we date it preliminarily to the spring of 39 A.D.


Dear Portia,

Pilate is dead.

I am sorry to tell you so bluntly but, in truth, it is a relief. He took ill with that awful consumptive disease when winter set in and has suffered grievously. These last three weeks he has been almost constantly delirious, wracked both by agonizing pain and unceasing night terrors. You cannot know what a trial it has been. Were it not for my brother’s wife and a friend we made here in Pyrgi, I do not think I could have borne it at all.

We were never happy in Judea. Oh, Pilate was proud when he was named procurator, to be sure. When we marched in with our cohort to take residence, he flew the imperial standards high and with pride. We had heard the Jews could be a contentious lot, so Pilate thought we would get off on a good footing by establishing residence among the people. But the trouble began immediately. The Jews went into an uproar, claiming that the image of the divine Caesar on our standards was a blasphemy to their God. They claimed that the fortress we occupied, Antonia, was part of their temple – and our residence there a desecration. Their behavior was so insolent and riotous Pilate asked his predecessor, Gratus, to delay his departure a few days to give us counsel.

Gratus warned Pilate that the Jews were zealous and ready to revolt on anything touching their religion, but were otherwise dutiful and productive subjects. He named some members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council, with whom he had made useful alliances.


Antonio Fortress, Jerusalem

They would, he promised, be as zealous as we are in enforcing imperial law and extracting taxes if we gave them leave concerning their religion. Pilate suggested it might be time to demonstrate who was ruler and who was ruled here, but Gratus firmly discouraged such a course. We would find to our sorrow, he assured us, that the policy of Rome, itself, was to yield to the Jews on matters concerning their religion. It was the only issue that sparked rebellion and Judea was too important a holding to toy with when it was so easily appeased without detriment to genuine Roman interests.


So Pilate sent the standards off to Caesarea and we vacated the fortress. We moved into a castle on Mt. Zion that was more spacious, anyway. That became the source of yet another uproar. Pilate hung the golden shields in honor of our gods on the castle. Once again the Jews cried, “Desecration,” because the shields were engraved with the gods’ names. It set Pilate into a fury. He had respected their god, he reasoned, so they could return the favor and show a little respect for our gods. This was our castle and Pilate was the delegate in Judea of Imperial Rome. He refused to be moved. The Sanhedrin appealed to Rome. Gratus was right. The decree we received ordering the shields removed was signed by Tiberius, himself.

After his anger subsided, Pilate sought a means of improving his relations with the contentious Jews. He began to meet regularly with the Sanhedrin to seek their counsel. A common theme was the shortage of water in the city and the difficulty many had in transporting it and keeping their crops irrigated during the dry season. The council had heard of the excellent aqueducts we had in Rome and wondered if a similar project might be attempted in Jerusalem.

Pilate was delighted. He contacted Rome and obtained engineers for the project. Oh, what a wonderful time it seemed! Not only were we bringing water to our subjects; Pilate personally ordered that as many Jews as possible be hired to help in the construction. But this became the greatest source of controversy yet. Some priests complained that temple revenues were being used in the project. The Sanhedrin ruled that temple revenues could only be used for sacred purposes. Pilate was outraged. The bulk of the


Pont du Gard, ancient Roman aqueduct

project was being financed from his own treasury. He thought the Sanhedrin malicious, petty and ungrateful. He went before the high council and asked what could be more sacred than protecting the people from the effects of drought. He demanded to know on what grounds they could refuse to contribute to what would work primarily to their benefit. The council decided it would support a new levy on the people, but was adamant that its own revenues must remain untouched. Pilate cursed them and walked out. The Sanhedrin then inflamed the people into an uproar and the project was abandoned.


After that Pilate kept away from the Jews. He sought no further advice from the high council, nor did its members receive welcome when calling on him, even on matters solely devoted to the empire. He became very harsh in matters of imperial law and exacting the tribute. What else was he supposed to do? Every time he reached out to them, the Sanhedrin twisted it against him. He hated them.

The final straw came in the trial of the Jewish holy man, Jesus. It was right around this time nine years ago, when the Jews celebrate the Passover. People had been overjoyed when Jesus had come into the city the previous Sunday. He had gained much renown as a healer and miracle worker. Many of the common people had started calling him their king, the Messiah. This disturbed Pilate. But he also received reports that the Sanhedrin was enraged at the man, so decided to look further into the matter. Jesus had apparently beaten and chased many of the council’s revenue collectors away from the temple – and this at their most profitable time of year. That soothed Pilate. He figured any enemy of the Sanhedrin couldn’t be all bad. So he told his informants to keep him apprised of what was happening in the city.

Pilate learned a lot over the next few days. The Sanhedrin had once tried to recruit Jesus to their ranks, but he had spurned them, calling them hypocrites and snakes who bled the people rather than helping them. Shocked, the Sanhedrin returned his contempt in spades. They sent lackeys out to try to trick Jesus into saying something they could denounce him for. But his answers were too clever, always leaving the lackeys looking like fools. Even worse, some of the agents the council sent had defected and become adherents of the man. The more Pilate learned, the more he liked this Jesus, but tensions were getting so high he feared there might be an open confrontation before the festival was over.

Before dawn on Friday we were awoken by our attendant, who told us a group of Jewish officials was demanding to see Pilate immediately on a most urgent matter. I had had a terrible dream that night. I had seen this Jesus standing meekly on a hill, his face a mask of sorrow. All manner of furious people, their faces contorted in rage, were hurling themselves at him with swords and clubs. And all who reached him crumbled to dust as soon as their weapons touched him. He wept copiously, begging them to stop that he might help them, but they just kept on coming, destroying themselves in their rage. In my dream, Jesus looked deeply into my eyes, tears streaming down his sorrowful face. I shiver now at the memory of that gaze.

I was in tears, myself, as Pilate dressed to go downstairs. I told him please; please…if this had anything to do with that holy man, Jesus, have nothing to do with it. He must not harm Jesus. I told him of my dream. He told me not to worry; he would send the Jews away.

When Pilate got downstairs the whole Sanhedrin was waiting for him. They were in an uproar – and it was about Jesus. The council was making all manner of wild political charges against the man and demanding he be put to death. I’m sure my face paled when Pilate came up to tell me. He said he had to go or there would surely be a riot.


Jesus before the Sanhedrin

He knew the council hated Jesus and only sought to destroy him because of the following he had built, a following that threatened to topple their own authority. He said he would drag things out until midday when the people would begin to fill the square – and the weight of the people, themselves, would force the council to back down.


But he was home again in just a few hours, shaken and pale. He had spoken with Jesus. The man was not at all what Pilate had expected. He said he kept thinking of my dream as he spoke with him. Pilate said Jesus seemed incredibly sorrowful, but not at all afraid, so much so that Pilate thought it bordered on insolence. At first Jesus would not respond to his questions at all. Irritated, Pilate asked Jesus if he knew he had power to condemn or to spare him. Jesus looked deep into his eyes with a terrible pity and told my husband he had no power at all save that which was given from above. It stunned Pilate, so he asked Jesus if he was a king. The holy man did not answer directly, but said his kingdom was not of this world.

That was enough for Pilate. Clearly, this was no threat to the empire, just to the Sanhedrin. He decided on the spot to release Jesus immediately. But when he went into the courtyard to announce his decision it was already filled with people. To his horror, Pilate realized the Sanhedrin must have filled the square with its own people during the night. When the common people began to arrive at mid-morning they would be crowded out. He went to his seat before the judgment table and announced he had found no fault in Jesus and would release him. The crowd roared, demanding his crucifixion. All Pilate could do was play for time. So he claimed there were jurisdictional issues and sent Jesus to Herod for questioning. Herod questioned him and sent him back. Again Pilate went out and told the crowd that neither he nor Herod had found any fault in the man. But the crowd shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

crucify him mob

Crucify Him!

Pilate feared another revolt might get him recalled to Rome in disgrace. Desperate to damp down the tension, he sent Jesus off to be scourged, hoping it would satiate the crowd’s bloodlust.


I told him I was going back to the square with him. His face went absolutely white and he said no, I must not go there. But I was adamant. Finally he said I could go as long as I stayed out of sight of the crowd in the side hall of the west entrance.

After I was seated, the guard brought Jesus in through the east entrance, directly across from me. Portia, I have never seen a sight as terrible and terrifying. His face was battered and swollen, so purple I didn’t at first notice the bright red blood trickling from his forehead. They had forced some sort of cap of thorns and briars onto his head. It was these which, forced into his forehead, caused fresh blood to trickle. They had adorned him with a robe of the royal color, which matched the color of his face. In his right hand they made him hold some sort of stick. I finally realized the horrible joke; they had made a mock king of him. Pilate staggered when he saw him. I thought my husband would faint. He turned back to me with a look of sick desperation and, with one hand, motioned firmly for me not to move from where I was at.

Pilate leaned forward and gripped the table of the judgment seat with both hands. After the stricken look he had given me, I was astonished at the calm command of his voice as he addressed the crowd. He told them firmly he had found no fault with the man and was going to release him. The mob’s cry hit us both like a fist. “Crucify him,” they screamed. Pilate looked at Jesus, then back at me. From where I sat I could see something the crowd could not. My husband’s knees were shaking uncontrollably. He sat down. After a moment, I could see an idea had occurred to him. He rose again and spoke.

“It is our custom to release a prisoner each year on the occasion of the Passover festival. Whom shall I release to you; Jesus, called the Christ, or Barabbas?” he asked the crowd.

Oh Portia, how I admired the cleverness of our Pilate at that moment! Barabbas was a murderous insurrectionist who cared little whether it was Jews or Romans; men, women or children that he murdered, as long as he was killing.

pilate and jesus

I find no fault in Him

Confronted with this choice the people would have to choose Jesus. The square was silent as the nature of the choice sank in. And then the cry began. “Free Barabbas!” It rose to an insane, rhythmic chant. Pilate staggered again and fell back into his seat. I looked across at Jesus. Bloody and battered as he was, he looked at my husband with such sorrowful pity you would have thought it was Pilate’s fate which hung in the balance. Then Jesus looked at me and, through the gore, I saw the man from my dream. I moaned in terror, sure we would all die there that day. Pilate looked over to me, his face sick with desperation and panic.


“Shall I crucify your king?” he pleaded with the crowd. Then I heard the voice of the high priest, shrill with malice and rage, cry triumphantly, “We have no king but Caesar.” I could not see the high priest from where I sat, but I knew where he must be; on the receiving end of the most smoldering gaze of murderous contempt I have ever seen on my dear husband’s face. The chant of the mob continued, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

Anger at the high priest galvanized my husband. He ordered silence in a voice that clearly threatened to do to the crowd what they would do to Jesus if they failed to obey. He told them he had found no fault in the man, then turned to the guard and ordered that a basin of water be brought before him. He stood waiting for the basin, his stare daring the crowd to say it, to go ahead and break this sulfurous silence with their murderous cry. The mob did not accept the invitation. When the basin arrived Pilate solemnly washed his hands. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he told the mob, “Upon you it shall be.” I heard the high priest’s voice respond with gleeful triumph. “Upon us, let it be,” he cried.

I was horrified by the rage and loathing that filled my husband’s eyes; even more so by the look of terrible pity Jesus gave Pilate as the guard took hold of him to lead him away. When he came back into the hall to me, Pilate ordered a guard to fashion a sign to be affixed to Jesus’ cross. He ordered that it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

After we got home and the guard had been dismissed, Pilate spoke to me. “When they brought him in I understood immediately the horrible joke,” he told me. “But as I looked in Jesus eyes, something happened. There was a brilliant radiance surrounding him. I saw power coming from him like rays of the sun. He was majestic and noble and his eyes were filled with compassion for me. For me! Can you believe it? Here the mob is crying for his head and he is looking at me with compassion. I could see he is a king.” Pilate shook his head briefly in confusion, then corrected himself. “No, he is not a king. He is the king.”

“How, then, could you condemn him?” I gently asked.

“I did not!” Pilate said to me with sudden fury, then caught himself. “He told me his kingdom is not of this world and I believe him. Whatever world he is from is more than this one. They will not be able to kill him. The joke is on them. The Sanhedrin has tormented us from the very day we arrived, and now they torment this king. But they have reached too far. This one they can’t contain. They will see. It will be just like your dream. Their malice against him will break them, not him.”

Pilate was so earnest and agitated, I left him alone. To speak at all was to trigger an intense outburst from him. So we waited in uneasy quiet for news. Late in the morning the high priest came in a rage, demanding to see Pilate. He complained that the sign Pilate had prepared should have read, “He claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate gazed at the high priest with savage joy and contempt as he said, “What I have written, I have written,” then had him thrown from the castle. He grinned at me in satisfaction. “Imagine their terror when they discover they really have set themselves against their king.”

But it was not to be. Late that afternoon we had a terrible earthquake, followed by a brief, furious storm. Both Pilate and I feared my dream was coming true. Just as the storm died, a messenger from the guard came to inform us that Jesus was dead. Pilate was thunderstruck. He thought sure that Jesus would somehow turn the tables on the council. Now he was terrified. After seeing the kingly radiance surrounding Jesus, Pilate thought the business of the basin was a clever and stately way of shifting all responsibility over to the Sanhedrin. He had actually used the basin as a message to Jesus: the message to the crowd was an afterthought. But now that his impossible hopes had been dashed, he knew the basin did not clean his hands of Jesus’ blood. He was terrified.

That evening, a man named Joseph, who Pilate thought was allied with the council, broke the paralysis that had settled on my husband. This Joseph asked permission to take the body of Jesus and remove it to his family tomb. Pilate was suspicious. He thought it a trick by the Sanhedrin to further desecrate Jesus. But several women had accompanied Joseph and awaited him in the outer court. When they were told Pilate would not release the body, they wailed with such intense and piteous grief that my husband was convinced they must have loved the man, Jesus, and so released him to their care.

The next morning a priest came to ask Pilate to set a guard at the tomb. He explained that Jesus had told crowds that he must be put to death, but would rise again on the third day. The council feared his disciples might steal the body and create an even bigger following for him in death than he had in life. Much to the priest’s surprise Pilate immediately, even eagerly, agreed. The priest slyly observed that the high priest would be very pleased to know that the procurator had thought better of the matter.

“You tell that viper if he ever ventures into my courtyard again he will meet the same fate he contrived for your king,” Pilate spat at him with such fury the priest did not dare argue that Jesus was not their king.

After the priest left, Pilate shook with emotion. What emotion, I could not tell. It could have been fury, joy, fear or some intense mixture of these and more. “I told you,” he said to me, “Death cannot hold that man. He is a king and I will not let the council get hold of his body to defile it before he has accomplished his purpose. The council wants the guard to keep his disciples out. I set the guard to keep the council out.”

His eyes blazed with such intensity I feared my husband might be taking leave of his senses. I took great care to soothe him. He took care to order the guards he had appointed to keep him apprised of any news, and to defend to the death any attempted intrusion into the tomb.

It was just after noon the next day when one of the guards came, shaking with terror, to report that somehow the body had been stolen right out from under them.


(Sleeping Guards – Piero Della Francesca)

Pilate looked at me and remarked that this was the third day. He ordered the guardsman be brought some refreshment, then kindly, but intensely questioned him. The guard swore the cohort had not been drinking or carousing, as they were fearful about incurring the procurator’s wrath. They knew how important this was. The messenger reported they had been standing guard when a brilliant light bloomed in the darkness, blinding them. It had seemed only a moment, he said, but when their sight returned they were all on their backs and it was dawn – and the rock had been moved from the tomb. Pilate asked why it had taken so long for them to come tell him. The guard responded that they had been frightened the procurator might have them executed and so had argued among themselves on whether to send one to tell him or to flee. Pilate asked if there was any other news he should know. The guard’s whole body seemed to wither in misery as he reported that some of the women who had been with Jesus claimed he had risen and even spoken to them.


Pilate was delighted. He assured the guard that none of them would be punished, that they should just keep quiet about what had happened, neither confirming nor contradicting any rumors that arose. The guard gloomily protested that already some of the council were spreading rumors that the guard had been drunk with carousing. This delighted Pilate even more, so much that he ordered three months wages be given as bonus to each of the four guardsmen, while re-iterating his order that they say nothing and completely ignore whatever rumors the Sanhedrin put out.

After the guard left I asked Pilate why he was so pleased.

“Don’t you see,” he asked me. “If the council is putting out such rumors it proves they do not have the body. They are trying to contain the damage. Their constant schemes have fanned the flames of public resentment against us since we arrived. Every effort we made to improve relations they used as kindling to fire the flames even hotter against us. But now they are caught in their own trap. Every rumor they spread, every lie they tell is another piece of wood they lay on the cairn that will consume them.”

I asked Pilate if he thought Jesus was really risen. He pondered for a moment, then smiled and said whether he was or whether he wasn’t, the Sanhedrin would have much more to worry about now than how to make our lives a misery.

Over the next few months rumors swirled throughout Jerusalem about where Jesus had been, who had seen him, who he had talked with and what he was doing. It was even reported, with witnesses attendant, that he had preached to a group of hundreds of people at a single time. The council was beside itself. I think Pilate was hoping Jesus might come to us and offer some words of comfort and hope. He certainly never tired of summoning witnesses to recount for him all the details of the latest sighting. Finally, word came that Jesus had stood amongst some of his followers and vanished into the heavens before their very eyes, and the rumors died down.


(The Ascension – Benjamin West)


That, however, was not the end of the matter. More like the beginning, if you want to know the truth. The followers of Jesus were bolder than ever. They took to calling themselves The Way and holding forth in synagogues throughout Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin was constantly bringing members of The Way up on charges. Nothing delighted Pilate more those last few years than to tell the furious priests to “…see to the matter, yourselves” and not to trouble him on matters pertaining to their religion.

Of course, our relations with the Sanhedrin were forever poisoned after that. Not that they had been much to speak about before, but after that Passover it became a constant struggle. The Sanhedrin was constantly trying to undermine Pilate with Rome and Pilate was constantly trying to undermine the Sanhedrin with the people. It was ironic that during those last few years Pilate achieved a rather popular following among the growing segment of Jews who identified themselves with The Way. Both made the Sanhedrin squirm, though I think Pilate enjoyed it more than members of The Way did. Eventually, though, we were summoned to Rome to answer charges that we were conspiring with the rebellious sect known as The Way to overthrow the Sanhedrin. It wasn’t true, but certainly Pilate did always rule in favor of anyone he knew – or even thought – to be connected with The Way any time the council brought them up on charges.

In many ways it was a relief. Our time in Jerusalem had not been pleasant. After proving his loyalty, Pilate hoped to receive another, more auspicious posting. He would even have been content with a return to the Legion with a favorable command, though we had grown very fond of each other over the course of our troubled encounter with Judea and did not want the separation that re-appointment to the Legion would inevitably bring. Unfortunately Tiberius died while we were en route to Rome and the new emperor, Caligula, did not consider hearing our case a priority. We went to stay with my brother and his wife in Pyrgi, just about a day north of Rome, to await the emperor’s pleasure. To our surprise, The Way had established a few footholds even here, in the heart of the empire. We met two adherents who said they had been in the courtyard on the day of the great drama. One, Joses by name, came to visit us quite regularly, occasionally bringing a friend or two. Joses and Pilate became fast friends and loved to talk at great length about Jesus. I thank God for it. When Pilate took ill a few months ago, Joses took it upon himself to stay with us and help me care for my husband.

You have to understand, Portia, that over the last few years Pilate was not the same man you knew from your childhood or his early days with the Legion. He never slept well anymore and his days were ever more listless. The only time he seemed his old self was when Joses came around. Truth is, Pilate had become consumed with thoughts of Jesus and what he could have done differently that day. He feared he had failed the only real king he had ever met. It ate at him. Joses swore that he had been among the crowd that Jesus had preached to after having risen. I think that, more than anything, sealed Pilate’s attachment to him. Pilate asked him why the members of The Way didn’t hate him, even seemed to enjoy coming up to visit him, when they both knew that whatever his protestations, without his approval there could have been no crucifixion. Pilate’s voice trembled as he once told me that Joses had explained that if Jesus was to conquer death and rise, he must first die. To some in The Way, Pilate was a curiosity. For others, even though he was a Roman, he had spoken with Jesus on that last day and that meant something. For those who had been there, Joses said, yes, Pilate had a hand in Jesus’ death. But his was the only hand that day that had seemed unwilling. And more, Joses told him, every friend he had brought said afterward that they could feel the grief of it still hanging on Pilate like a shroud.

Sometimes in the night, Portia, I would wake to hear Pilate muttering, “Your king is innocent,” or “I find no fault in him.” He would toss and turn throughout the night. Even on the good nights, the bedclothes would be soaking in the morning. One terrible night I woke to hear Pilate screaming, “I wash my hands of it. I tell you I wash my hands of it!” I had to wake him to keep him from disturbing the whole household. When I did he kept looking in all directions in frenzied panic. He shrank against the bedpost and didn’t recognize me. He kept begging, “Please, please…” and wouldn’t suffer me to touch him for some time. It took me hours to calm him. Finally he drifted back to sleep and did not awake until late the next afternoon.

Joses told me that Pilate constantly asked him if he thought Jesus could forgive him. Joses tried to reassure him that Jesus already had, but Pilate would always mist up in disconsolate grief, telling him, “I could have stopped it, but didn’t. I should have stopped it, but didn’t. Oh why, oh why, oh why didn’t I stop it? I’ve been lost ever since.” It grieved Joses that Pilate could not understand how forgiving of weakness Jesus is. It is malice that destroys a man, Joses said. He kept trying to tell Pilate he had more to fear from his hatred of the Sanhedrin than of the role he played in Jesus’ death. But Pilate would not hear any defense of the Sanhedrin – and could not accept that Jesus would ever forgive him for letting them take him to Golgotha.

When the sickness came, Pilate got worse. He laid in bed and kept begging Joses to ask Jesus to come and forgive him. He said he could not believe he could ever be forgiven unless Jesus came, himself, to tell him. Over and over, it was all he would talk about, then sob uncontrollably. In these last three weeks, he was in constant agony. He could neither sleep, nor stay awake. He was either quiet and labored or raving. “Jesus, forgive me,” he would plead, “Come tell me you forgive me,” and then great, wracking sobs that tore my heart out.

Joses would sit with him sometimes and send me away to give me a break, but I could tell it was hard on him, too. Four days ago, he had to go away for a week, but said he would try to get back early. Thank God he got back late yesterday afternoon. Ever since he had left, Pilate kept asking me, “Claudia, why are you doing me this way?” and groaning in agony. It was a constant accusation. When Joses arrived he found me crying in the garden. I collapsed onto his chest weeping as I told him what had happened. I told him I knew Pilate was not in his right mind anymore, but it hurt so bad that, even in his delirium, he should think I was doing this to him. I cried and cried and cried some more. I told him I had to go back up to Pilate; I couldn’t leave it like this, but I didn’t know if I could bear it.

Joses cradled my chin in his hands and wiped my tears off. “We’ll go up together, Claudia. You know he doesn’t mean it and he needs you so much now. We’ll see him together and you’ll be strong,” he told me. It was such a relief to have Joses with me as we went in. Pilate started stirring immediately and then woke, confused and feeble.

“Look,” I said. “Joses is here to see you. See, Pilate, your friend Joses is with us.”

As soon as we entered I saw that Joses had started silently mouthing prayers. It seemed to give me strength. Certainly, having Joses here gave me something to focus Pilate’s attention on other than me or his pain. I kept telling him that Joses was here, over and over. It felt silly to keep repeating it, but I couldn’t help myself. It had become a mantra against the darkness. Joses had his own mantra. He did not cease mouthing his silent, urgent prayers. To the astonishment of both of us, Pilate started struggling to sit up. He didn’t have the strength for it, but was determined. Joses did not cease his silent prayer, nor I my cheery announcements as we helped move Pilate into a sitting position. Joses put his arm behind Pilate to support him. When Pilate was up, his head slumped limply on his chest and his arms hung as limply at his sides. He took deep, struggling breaths, as if he had just finished some fearsome effort which, I guess, he had. After a few minutes, Joses interrupted his prayer long enough to say, “Claudia, he’s trying to tell you something.” I looked down and saw Pilate’s fingers twitching purposefully at me. My heart sank, but I leaned in to him. As I did, he grabbed my arm with a strength I would not have thought possible in that skeletal frame. “I…I love you, Claudia,” he whispered in a gasp. Tears flooded my eyes. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into sobs. Instead I replied, “I love you, too, Pilate.” But as I started to sit back up, his grip was all the stronger and more insistent. He had neither lifted his head from his chest nor opened his eyes during this effort. Again, he took deep, gasping breaths, gathering his strength for something more. Twice more, he told me he loved me. After the last, without lifting his head or opening his eyes, the faintest smile of contentment smoothed his face. I told Joses I thought he was ready to sleep again.

We gently laid him back down. Oh what a lovely sight he was! His breathing was deep and strong and quiet, and the faint smile of contentment remained on his face. I told Joses, with no little amazement, that it was the first peaceful sleep he had had in months. Joses smiled and said, “He needed to tell you how much he loves you.”66066

We went to the anteroom and had some tea sent up. We talked quietly into the wee hours of the night. Every time I went to look in on Pilate he was breathing deeply and peacefully. What a blessing! Sometime during the night, he slipped quietly away. I think Jesus must have come before Joses and I went up to him last evening.

Your brother is at peace, Portia. I know it with certainty. And how glad the knowing is!

Your sister-in-law,

Claudia Procula


About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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72 Responses to Epitaph

  1. SteveBC says:

    Thank you, Charlie. I think, of all those involved in that event, Pilate is the one whose path has been the most in question for me. This is a worthy exploration of that question, though there is no way to know if it leans into the truth of the man and the matter or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Petra says:

      I remember reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s conversion story (she’s an atheist turned Catholic; google her if you’ve never heard of her), and in it she tells of how when she first read the Gospels in college out of curiosity, how she could not relate to a single person in any of the Gospels — except when she came to Pilate. To her, Pilate was the only person who made sense.
      Just contemplating that boggles my mind. And shows me the gulf between those of us who have met Christ, and those who have not. It also explains a lot about why the secular world is as it is.
      God bless.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Steve, I’m with you. This is one of the rare instances where I merely scanned one of Charlie’s posts and spent more time considering the responses/reactions. I hadn’t gotten to this one right away, then was later drawn to the Divine Mercy and St. Michael images in the subsequent post where I keep getting lost in contemplation.

      A weak worldly ruler, various wretched members of the sacerdotal class, a ravenous mob… oh, all the same characters are on the scene today. Horrific to be sure, but I’m still more focused on the Remedy/remedies and less on the particular characters who cause me discomfort.

      That said, I really don’t want to place any limitations on Mercy and have to consider that as the likely thematic intention of Charlie’s piece.

      God Bless,


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Snow Owl says:

    That was just simply wonderful, Charlie! I loved it🙂 I felt like I was watching a movie I could so clearly see it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. anaverena1 says:

    Yes, I enjoyed this, Charlie! I would imagine Pilate received the same mercy as St Peter was shown. It is a pity that Pilate didn’t stand up to the crowd regardless of consequences to himself, but many of us may have done the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul says:

    Absolutely beautiful Charlie…Thank You…


  5. Edna Bollman says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing


  6. Centurion_Cornelius says:

    Marvelous story, Charlie. Thanks! It offers us much to ponder and to reflect upon.


  7. Deborah Treister says:

    I so enjoyed your meditation. I too, when saying the Rosary go to the time and place and my mind seems to fill all the details in, but I have never before truly contemplated what might have became of Pilate after his encounter with The King…beautiful, and full of the love and mercy only our God can give!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mike says:

    What an excellent reflection as we enter this great jubilee year of Mercy!


  9. radiclaudio says:

    Amen, amen.

    An excellent reflection of the infinite possibility of God’s mercy if we can find it in ourselves to repent and say YES to him.

    I know it’s made up, but, in my heart, I hope it is in some way accurate.

    Thank Charlie.

    Love and affection to all my RNS family here.


    Liked by 4 people

  10. bflocatholic says:

    Magnificent! Thank you, Charlie for that reflection. Much to ponder.


  11. CrewDog says:

    Good ‘Story” Charlie😉
    I know I’ve told all here that, in the past few years, I’ve come to the belief that The Passion of Jesus was just a Divine Play as directed by The Father for our Salvation. As I write this, I’m wondering what number should be assigned to this Act? … and what number should be assigned to the Act called The Storm? ….. and how many more Acts are to come? All Plays must have Good/Bad Guy actors and I can’t help but wonder about Heaven and who will be there?
    Anyway!! We are all actors in this upcoming Act so … Pray we all get our “lines’ right😉


    Liked by 3 people

  12. Judy says:

    Jesus said he had come to save sinners. I have always thought the His love and mercy must be greater than His righteous anger. Otherwise none of us would be saved.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. marlonancy says:

    I think we will be surprised who we find in heaven. I have always felt this of Pilate. It has never been a meditation such as this but a feeling. Thank you, Charlie you have helped me with this.


  14. YongDuk says:

    I am just happy that you did not write in the stylized writing of the apocryphal Letter of Pilate to Tiberius or the other spurious Letters attributed to him! (see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0810.htm; internet search Letter of Pontius Pilate)

    And I had a good laugh at your qualifications at the beginning lest all the contentions come out as last time🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sharon Pello says:

    Thank you Charlie, This was completely absorbing and done so beautifully…Pilate’s lot was sad
    but it shows God’s mercy in all things…I always wondered though, when they released “Barabbas”, if he went on his murderous rage and the ones who called for him to be freed, instead of Jesus, met up with him in a bad way?

    Thank you also, for helping us in so many ways.
    Every day, I look forward to the “Next Right Step”!
    Sharon Pello

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Steve says:

    Several years ago, while Charlie was on his pilgrimage, I was listening to a Christian radio show in which the preacher was talking about how Pilate was doomed to hell for allowing Jesus to be crucified. This caused a lot of turmoil for me as I contemplated it. My thinking was that Jesus came to die for our sins. This meant that he had to die, and had to do so in a certain way (i.e. it would not work for him to die of old age). This caused me to start thinking that, since it had to be done, that God had chosen Pilate to be the person for this event, and I could not reconcile the fact that God would choose a person to initiate the death that would bring about the possibility of salvation for the whole world just to condemn that person to hell. It bothered me so much that I called Charlie to talk about it. When I finished telling him what was on my mind, Charlie told me “Steve, it’s funny that you should call me about this, as I have just written a piece about that very subject that I will be posting shortly. Download it and read it.” Since he had not started this blog at that time, he was writing short stories (such as above) and publishing them to Amazon. I downloaded the story (this story) and read it. It was so beautiful and was the very thing I needed! This demonstrates to me that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us. To me, it also shows that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us. To us, it may seem terrible, but we can never know God’s will while we live on this earth. It has been some time since I read this, so it was wonderful to get up this morning and see this particular story!

    Liked by 3 people

    • charliej373 says:

      I actually dedicated that story to Steve – who is my brother. When he read it, he sent me a note saying that his first response after finishing the story was to cry in glorious relief, “Thank God, Pilate made it after all.” Then he remembered it was just a story – but hoped it proved true in its ultimate resolution.

      Liked by 5 people

    • M5th says:

      Steve, I have always felt the same way about Pilot, even with Judas in some ways. I think Judas represents us for the times when we fall short of acknowledging Jesus in our lives, especially to other people or when we feel we can do things on our own.
      Charlie, I love this story! I know it’s fiction, but I would love for it to be true. I had no idea about the connection of Pilot with Ethiopia either-which someone posted below. Thank you again for all you do and for including all of us in your life.


  17. What a powerful and moving story!

    So much food for thought, especially this part:
    “It is malice that destroys a man, Joses said. He kept trying to tell Pilate he had more to fear from his hatred of the Sanhedrin than of the role he played in Jesus’ death.”

    That really made me think. I can pray all day and say, “Lord, I love you! And I’m sorry for my sins,” but if I’m unforgiving of another, and harbor grudges, anger, resentment, or bitterness etc…
    I’m actually guilty of not loving HIM as I should!

    I need to get up like the toddler, and try again.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Vijaya says:

    Really enjoyed your story Charlie. I expected a different ending because I’d read someplace that Pilate was so tortured after the Crucifixion that the committed suicide. But I like your imagination better. Thank you and have a blessed Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeff says:

    This is awesome timing for the extraordinary Jubilee! I have always wondered if Pilate sought after the disciples, knowing the conflict he felt that day. It would have been a great story had it happened. Can you imagine the tears of joy in THAT confessional?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. JoyInTheLord says:

    Why would we say his name, Pontius Pilate, each time we recite the Creed? I guess to remind us that even if we drove the nails into His Hands and Feet, we are within the comfort of God’s Loving Mercy! This meditation from Charlie brings it home. Thank you, Sherpa Charlie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hatchetwoman says:

      According to Father John Hardon, it was because Pilate symbolizes the sufferings and persecutions of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. He said: “Without exception, it has been the Pilates of every age who have been used by Christ’s enemies to persecute the Church He founded. The Neros and Attillas, the Huns and Communists have been the agents of the devil in persecuting faithful Christians. But let us be clear. No less than on the first Good Friday (when it was the apostate leaders of the Jews who used the secular, Roman law to condemn Jesus), so over the centuries it has been the apostate Christians who have used the State to crucify the martyrs of Christianity.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • Mick says:

        Hatchet, this is the first time I’ve seen your screen name, so I assume you’re new. Welcome!🙂


      • zeniazenia says:

        God always uses our enemies to discipline us. Then he will certainly remove the enemy Our prayers are answered in ways we never expect or desire. God referred to Nebuchadrez’zar the king of Babylon, as’ my servant’. This was not really welcome news for Israel. They must have thought, “Lord why? We are yours, not Babylon! Why do you call Nebuchadrez’zar your servant?”
        Jeremiah 25 :8-9 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, says the LORD, and for Nebuchadrez’zar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants,
        Jeremiah 27 :6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnez’zar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him.
        Jeremiah 43: 9-10 “Take in your hands large stones, and hide them in the mortar in the pavement which is at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tah’panhes, in the sight of the men of Judah, and say to them, `Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrez’zar the king of Babylon, my servant, and he will set his throne above these stones which I have hid, and he will spread his royal canopy over them.


      • YongDuk says:

        A very answer answer, indeed, indeed, and why his cause is being put forward, indeed!

        Thank you for sharing this. (It influenced my Stations this evening…)


  21. linda says:

    oh my goodness charlie ~ i loved this story ~ so so much ~ you brought everyone alive to me in a way that any movie or story ever has ~ thank you so much ~ i have been listening to this song all morning ~ it is called “the darkness before the dawn” by andrew peterson ~ i think you will like it ~ i just love it and it gives me some holy relief ~ thank you again charlie ~ for keeping us in your heart and on our toes ~ linda

    Liked by 1 person

  22. narnialion54 says:

    Bravo, bravissimo!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Phillip Frank says:

    This link leads to a very interesting read on several writings about Pontius Pilate.
    Some are apocryphal and some are from the early church fathers.
    Many of these suggest Pilates conversion and show the Church does consider Pilate a Christian convert although I don’t know if it is an official belief.


  24. Cloe Roesler says:

    I feel that I’ve been at the most important encounter in history. Words don’t come to me but I thank you, Charlie, for this powerful writing.


  25. Nance says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was the way it happened? Surely, then, there is hope for us all.


  26. MarieUrsula says:

    This is very beautiful, Charlie, and it makes sense. God is good.


  27. Dolly says:

    I’m heading to Adoration soon and will think about this. Oddly, I’m finding myself thinking about God’s plans for each of us and things like free will and predestination.


  28. SanSan says:

    Loved your story regarding Pilate’s part in salvation history…..for the longest time, whenever I do the Stations of the Cross, the first Station brings me up short…..I realize that I am Pilate whenever “I wash my hands” from my part in His Crucifixion…..from my part in conflicts……Lord Jesus have mercy.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. jared says:

    The contrast of repentance between Judah, Peter and Pilot is interesting. In the book “Poem of the God Man”, Maria Valtorta describes this scene . Claudius was Pilot’s wife and also a follower of Jesus. So Pilot new about Jesus.
    Some years ago I was translating a departmental math exam in which Green Bay Middle School was mentioned. How do I translate that into French? So for my catholic district, I called it /”Ecole Saint Ponce Pilate”. I thought a little humour during the exam could release some tension. It was several years later, to my surprise, I read somewhere that Pilot had gone to Etheopia with a Christian community .where they still revere him. I would like to confirm this if possible.
    I love your story.


    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks Jared. Other than what we have in the Bible, and a few largely vague near-contemporaneous histories, next to nothing is know about Pilate after he left Jerusalem. The historians vaguely locate him ending up in Gaul, but they are uncertain. The Ethiopian connection is intriguing. If there was some oral tradition preserved there, it might be enlightening. There is an interesting thread on it in “The Byzantine Forum,” which is an Eastern Rite Catholic site.


      • YongDuk says:

        Ok, I am about to do it again, as the Contentious Squirrel that I am🙂 (By the way, MP, I loved your post! It made a rough afternoon great!)

        I saw saw this comment about the “canonization” of Pilate by one of the Ge’ez [Ethiopian] churches in the middle of my nighttime and I prayed about it for several hours while sleeping.

        There are a few problems with that–and I am only addressing this idea of his “canonization” by the Ge’ez, not Charlie’s “movie script.”

        1. Pilate is mentioned in both the Apostles and the Nicene-Constantinople Creeds.

        2. The Syriac influence on the Ge’ez Rite/Church is enormous and the Syriac missionaries would have brought back this tradition at least to their churches. One can also surmised from the Acts of the Apostles that in no way was Ethiopia isolated.

        3. The Matthean Gospel sets up the Trial of Jesus in a very intricately crafted chiasm in which Pilate is both pivotal and very clearly laid out in parallel to the Book of Wisdom. This serves both political and spiritual purposes: Matthew, especially as the Spirit-filled author of the First-Gospel, was no idiot.

        3′. This is way too intricate to write out here–yet absolutely beautiful to delve into. Key to this is the Greek terms used for both the dream and Pilate’s washing his hands and their very clear echoes in the Book of Wisdom and in the Torah, as well as the Syriac roots in Jesus being the freely bound one who gives himself up both in the Garden and in being led away. Pilate in no uncertain terms messed up, super messed up and really super messed up and Matthew makes sure that no one misses his parallel to Judas in messing up! I wane eloquent for brevity

        2′. The Ge’ez Church is not a Coptic or Alexandrian Church, even if its Patriarch for Centuries was from Alexandria. Therefore, any oral tradition about Pilate from the early centuries before Chalcedon would have been not only passed back into and through the Syriac Churches, but also into and through the Alexandrian Church and from there back to Rome. His conversion and saintly death would have been great cause for rejoicing, just as Judas’ would have been. This is not the case. There is only a small group of Ge’ez who follow this. That Ethiopia was no isolated is again shown in the Acts of the Apostles and this news would have reached the rest of Christendom.

        1′. Pilates mention in the Creeds would have made the desire for knowledge of Pilate’s whereabouts, especially if he had a conversion and died saintly death, all the more widely known and spread by tradition. (Remember, the whereabouts of the deaths of the early Christians is fairly well preserved in many cases. Who here is aware that St. Gamaliel converted and that his body lies with his sons in Pisa? Then you have Peter, Paul, Thomas, Mary Magdelene, Joseph of Arimathea, etc.) Whilst one may weakly contend that the Roman Church may have had a bias against Pilate for not standing up for the Truth and succumbing to crowd / political pressure and therefore may have quashed any tradition that he died after a saintly life out of embarrassment, one still has to ask why Pilate is mentioned in the Creeds. Wouldn’t one expect Judas to be mentioned before Pilate?! My only answer, and I am sure there are better answers, is that the majority of Christendom fell within the Roman Empire (the Chaldean and Indian Churches being the exception–yet they too have Syriac roots in more or less later early centuries) and, given the Prophetic Visions of Daniel, Rome needed to remain and be humbled through the reminder of what one of her own governors did to Jesus. Daniel prophesied Rome in 2:34-35: a stone was hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it [this imagery echoes the language for the stones to be chose to serve as alter stones in the Torah], and it struck its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces. The iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once, fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer, and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

        Rome, like any political entity, was given to nationalistic pride, just as Israel (Zionism/Zealotism), etc. Thus, while Rome did become a great mountain that filled the whole earth, she needed to be / remain humbled. The political versus the spiritual had to be constantly re-echoed to her: suffered under Pontius Pilate.

        While I happily would love to see Pilate in Heaven, just as Judas, I do contend with the Ge’ez church that would have canonized him as completely spurious.

        Pilate in Matthew epitomizes the whole of the Book of Wisdom: the innocent one against those against the innocent, not just the Priestly, but the Nation. That may be a better and the more real reason why Pilate is mentioned. However, it is too long to go into here, but I still think Daniel also holds part of the key.

        Ethiopia, I love you, your people and your food, but I don’t give you St Pontius Pilate as viable, but I am willing to be proven wrong.

        Pax vobis,
        +Young Duck


        • charliej373 says:

          Wow! Thank you for this brilliantly erudite piece, YD. Wow!


          • YongDuk says:

            Thank you, Charlie, but I am not a good writer and that seriously is hardly erudite, in my estimation, as it just from my knowledge base and prayer. If I were a better writer… but perhaps, therein, God keeps me humble in the world of Msgr Pope’s and Bishop Gracida’s.


        • Beckita says:

          Bravo YD! Thank you for your vast knowledge shared. We have much to learn from you and I so appreciate your inspired reasoning. Your closure is also spectacular! To end this ingenious piece with love, truth and humility pierces the heart.

          YD, how many languages do you actually speak?


          • YongDuk says:

            Ha! That’s biographical😉

            With a dictionary, about than nine… then a few more very rusty.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            I bet he speaks sqirrel🙂

            Liked by 2 people

          • Beckita says:

            I imagined so, YD. All the more reason to go easy on your own personal assessment of your writing skills, particularly if you hadn’t been thinking or writing much in English lately.

            The priest in this house came to English as his seventh language and has long been capable of spinning circles around native speakers in vocabulary yet still asks for editing assistance on his more more formal pieces. He had to do some serious study to translate so much into Mandarin when preparing for the priests’ retreat he gave last spring since all his theological training and further studies had been done in Latin, Spanish, Italian or English.

            You’ve been gifted in many ways, YD. May you and your gifts continue to give glory to God while edifying, inspiring and sanctifying Christ’s Mystical Body!


          • Doug says:

            Yes. I’m envious. No. Just kidding. I am amazed and grateful. This is a gift.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mick says:

            Doug: “I bet he speaks squirrel.”

            Sorry, but you have forced me to do some Dr. Doolittle: “If I could talk to the animals, just imagine it: chatting with a chimp in Chimpanzee. Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting with a cheetah; what a neat achievement it would be….”

            YD: Nine? NINE?! Yikes! I have trouble enough with English! I have a sister-in-law from Germany. English is her third language. She beats (no, destroys) me in Scrabble every time we play. But she’s nice: she doesn’t keep score.

            Liked by 3 people

          • YongDuk says:

            I played Scrabble in Polish once (Polish board). The Z’s aren’t worth 10 points as in the English version. Somehow I won…

            Liked by 3 people

        • Doug says:

          Fabulous YD!


        • Mick says:

          Wow, Bishop Contentious/Flying/Kung Fu Squirrel… that was awesome! Thanks especially for the information on Gamaliel; I hadn’t known that he converted. I’ll be sure to tell my kids (we were discussing Gamaliel recently, for some reason which now escapes me).

          Liked by 2 people

  30. Deborah Treister says:

    As surely as in your beautiful story, God must have mercy on the one who publicly acknowledged His Kingship in contrast to His own people ‘who knew Him not’.


  31. prayingflower says:

    Very, very beautiful. Thank you.


  32. marcyc48 says:

    Msgr. Charles Pope has an excellent, but dangerous (in his words) blog today on the Catlolic Register. He said he believes God is allowing increased violence (not restraining it) as a form of chastizement for the increasing secularization and unrepentance of the West. We are preverse, people, aborting over 50 million of our children and celebrating homosexual acts and legalizing same sex marriage.
    He tells us that there is Biblical proof that God does this; that the prophets warned the Israel and Judah.. Both Syria and Babylonia caused much suffering for God’s chosen people.
    Msgr. Pope cited the 32nd chapter of Deuteronamy for his reasoning in which God warns an unbelieving nation what will happen to them.. He said he knows he will take flack for his beliefs, but didn’t all the prophets?.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. cathyg2015 says:

    I loved your take on this, Charlie.It mirrors something I have always innately hoped when I ponder the story of the Passion. I always felt a little sorry for Pilate who was between a rock and a hard place politically but still tried to do what was right (while seeking to save his own skin). If Peter, his close disciple, could deny Jesus three times then how much easier was it for Pilate to succumb to the crowd. Even still, he didn’t do it lightly. I’d like to think I would have decided differently (with the breadth of knowledge of history it’s a no-brainer) but I also know I am often weak-willed. Your blog has been like an extended ethics/philosophy/catechism course for me. It has caused me to think and ponder and hone my beliefs in so many areas. Preparation for all that is to come…

    Liked by 1 person

  34. donkeyholler says:

    This brought tears to my eyes and shows so beautifully the mercy of Jesus — the mercy that we humans simply cannot fathom. I enjoyed this one even more than the first meditation that you posted! Thank you for sharing them with us.


  35. vincentuher says:

    I am one deeply moved by the witness and faithfulness of the Ethiopian Church against the Islamic onslaught. In an area of Ethiopia now filled with Muslim ethnic Somalis there was a ruined church and the names would be equivalent of St. Procula & St. Pontius. Whenever a church was named for husband and wife saints, the wife’s name always came first if she came to Christ first. So we have Claudia before Pilate.

    There was also a move to suppress devotion to St. Pontius when the Italians occupied Ethiopia and tried to force conversion to Rome. It was easier to keep Claudia and drop Pilate in a church’s name. But that was a long, long time ago, and I would know nothing of it except for a very elderly Ethiopian priest and remarkable Ethiopian nun sharing that story with me in Jerusalem years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Peggy Kushuba says:

    Bravo! This has changed the way I will look at Pilot. Mercy, ever a true and blessed gift!


  37. Bob says:

    The lesson is clear here about how those who don’t act according to truth with courage are subject to long term gnawing guilt when their failure to act allows others to be harmed. But God is merciful so it is wise to pray as Jesus said to” watch and to pray” as we too may be subject to the test and so let us ask for the grace to act rightly when the time comes. And as Paul warned somewhere “Let those who think they are strong watch out lest they fall”!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. little one in PA says:

    So beautiful Charlie. I cried as I read it. So beautiful. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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