Lenten Reflection Day 34: Could Do Nothing

Pilate Washing His Hands by He Qi

The Day’s Scripture

Matthew 27:24-31

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.


The phrase “he handed him over” (v.26) captures me.  To be handed over.  Ultimately someone had to carry the blame, the violence of disappointment and the riotous dissatisfaction. The mechanics of mimetic violence.  Even a leader like Pilate “saw that He could DO NOTHING”  There are seasons I can feel such helplessness . . . as I have before when the work of my hands and the passion of my life were being evaluated by the metrics of people and their best desires.  The potential, the anxiety (even if unfounded or imagined) over the possibility that I can be moved, discarded, replaced, ignored, chastised, blamed as ineffective, indeed “handed over” to the whim of social economics is just a small taste of what many we call refugee or homeless or convict or disabled or undocumented or deviant or black/brown-skinned experience on an everyday basis. The world is hurting and needs renewal and restoration. Into these injustices the church ought to speak and embody love/Gospel–even to the point of self-sacrifice.  What comes after crisis?  What metal are we forged with?

In your life,  how do you respond to injustice, to being humiliated, stripped and led away?  Or as a witness to this same scene rinsed and repeated daily in the lives of our neighbors–the washing of the hands and the blind riot against innocence–how do you respond?  

A Poem: Could Do Nothing
what can we say now on the verge of being handed over
we are not in sync—and the absence of Wi-Fi is conspicuously
resting on the blowfish’s quills.  I was once told I was a Tiger
from Korea—wounded yes—but of awesome sheen and the articulation
of fur, such that no one has seen before.  Where is my roar?
chained, led away—as Dickinson’s mad person.
this is what we feel as we consider this:  Lent.
Made straight.  By what rule?
Returning to the wilderness with no voice crying out
no desire GPS. no smoke Navigation.  Google is down
in this Galaxy . . . I crawl on my hands and knees
every morning.  For you.  For Spirit.  For S-voice.
Liturgy now, in this moment is a finger swipe across
a digital pond.  Ripples shout “Wake Up?”  Do you remember?

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