Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Days Prostrate

 I was researching the writings of first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, and came upon this story:

Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius, sent by night those images of Caesar that are called ensigns into Jerusalem. This excited a very among great tumult among the Jews when it was day; for those that were near them were astonished at the sight of them, as indications that their laws were trodden under foot; for those laws do not permit any sort of image to be brought into the city.

Nay, besides the indignation which the citizens had themselves at this procedure, a vast number of people came running out of the country. These came zealously to Pilate to Cesarea, and besought him to carry those ensigns out of Jerusalem, and to preserve them their ancient laws inviolable; but upon Pilate's denial of their request, they fell downprostrate upon the ground, and continued immovable in that posture for five days and as many nights.

From The Wars of the Jews by Flavius Josephus Book II section 169

Even though nothing is told of this story in the gospels, the incident took place sometime after Christ's 26th birthday. Most probably Christ was not a part of it, as he was in Galilee, but we cannot know for certain. 

What struck me is the zealousness of the common Jew for the law of God. At the time of Christ, Christians assume that the Jews were lukewarm and the leaders were white-washed tombs of hypocrisy. This story shows the opposite. The Jews were in no way passive. Many were martyred for defending Jerusalem against setting up an image inside its walls. 

As a Catholic, this story makes me a bit ashamed. Where are the tens of millions of Catholics and Christians outside of the US Supreme Court camping out night and day against abortion? Where are we when our modern-day Pilates on both the federal, state and local level enact laws that place the state above God or that go against the very laws of nature? 

Where is our passion for Christ and our passion for righteousness? 

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