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Pilate: What is truth? in "The Passion of the Christ"
CatholicEducation.org ^ | February 2004 | Our Faith in Action

Posted on 03/29/2013 7:49:44 PM PDT by Salvation

Pilate: What is truth? in "The Passion of the Christ"

OUR FAITH IN ACTION

The Pontius Pilate of "The Passion of the Christ" is a more multi-dimensional man than traditionally portrayed in film.


Not just a mean-spirited bureaucrat, he is an all-too-human proxy for modern man. Sadly, we may see a little of Pilate in ourselves.

A product of the Roman military, Pilate is a "results-oriented" ruler who finds himself in a most uncomfortable situation; he must determine Christ's fate.

Should he give the enemies of Christ the blood they desire? Should he stand up for the rights of an innocent man? A pragmatic man to whom everything is relative, he simply does not know. His political skills face a moral dilemma and come up wanting.

For Pilate, the ends justify the means. He wants to keep peace, to prevent civil unrest. In his final analysis, the death of an innocent man is an acceptable price to achieve his goal.

Are there Pilates in our own time?

The film compels us to ask whether there are Pilates in our world today. We have all seen and heard politicians say and do just about anything in the hope of getting votes. In the 2004 election cycle, some candidates have openly stated that their views will reflect the wishes of the majority, even if those wishes run counter to their personal moral or religious beliefs. Like Pilate, they hope to give the people what they want.

Corporate executives face the pressure of meeting shareholder expectations, and face the personal temptation of throwing out ethics to maximize personal financial gain. Some have given into these pressures and temptations by misstating financial statements, and in some cases eliminating jobs with little consideration for the value and dignity every person deserves.

A little Pilate in all of us?

In the movie, Pilate is torn. He thinks Jesus is innocent. His wife, Claudia, tells him that Jesus is a holy man and should not be punished. Jesus has many supporters, who will be angry if he is harmed. On the other hand, the church leaders want Jesus to be crucified; if they are not placated, Pilate might have a revolt on his hands. And a revolt would displease Pilate's boss, Tiberius. How often in our lives do we place strategic objectives such as power, money, or even the desire to be popular ahead of truth and doing what is morally correct?

The Roman Governor doesn't turn to the law or a moral code of right or wrong to help him. He sits and hangs his head, asking "what is truth?" He hasn't a clue.

Pilate truly is between a rock and a hard place. And without a sense of truth, he tries everything he can think of to weasel out of a decision. He sends Christ to Herod; Herod sends him back. He scourges him; the crowd asks for more. He offers to release him; the crowd wants Barabbas freed. In our lives do we at times place too much importance on pleasing others, instead of focusing on the truth and doing what is morally correct?

Pilate washes his hands, literally, of the affair. But he looks to be a broken man. Deep within, he knows that he cannot escape his part in Jesus' fate. Washing his hands will not bring him peace, will not erase the pain he feels, will not bring him closer to the definition of truth.

He feels the emptiness we all feel when we make a decision without relying on the truth, without determining what is right and sticking with it. Like Pilate, we can decide to make a decision that seems to maintain the peace. But if it isn't based on the truth, can it really give us peace in the long run?

Definitions

Truth- John 18: 37 "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."

THE SPLENDOR OF TRUTH shines forth in the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: "Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord" (Ps 4:6). — Veritatis Splendor

Facilitator's Guide: Pilate: What is truth? "The Passion of the Christ"

The purpose of this unit is to:

Prayer: Lord, gives us the strength that Pilate lacked, the strength to seek Your truth and act in harmony with it. May we have the courage to do the right thing, even when it is not the popular thing.

Discussion Questions

  1. Pilate believes Christ is innocent, but still allows him to be tortured and killed. Why didn't he release him?
  2. Pilate tried to satisfy everyone. Did he satisfy anyone?
  3. Pilate asks, "What is truth?" What does this suggest about his decision-making process?
  4. We have witnessed major business scandals in the past several years and business schools are increasingly concerned with teaching ethics. Are there parallels between Pilate and modern corporate executives who have become embroiled in financial scandal?
  5. At times we all find ourselves between "a rock and a hard place". Let's discuss hypothetical and real-life scenarios where doing the right thing may be unpopular.

Personal Reflections/Writing

  1. Pilate joins a very select group of named personages in the Nicene Creed: The Father, the Holy Spirit, Christ, Mary — and Pontius Pilate. "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate." He was one man, but was he in some ways a proxy for all men? Think about Pilate's dilemma and how it led to his infamous role in history.

  2. Review times in your life when you made a decision just to keep people happy.

Resolution Ideas

  1. I will meditate on an area of my life in which I have acted like Pilate, and take a concrete measure to correct this weakness.
  2. There are numerous university websites that offer articles and case studies on business ethics. A reading of the history around cases such as Enron can give insight to the ultimate results of executives not acting morally.
  3. Do a biographical sketch on Pilate and what happened to him after his encounter with Christ.
 
 
 


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; goodfriday; insidertraitors; michaelsteinberg; powercorrupts; quidestveritas; stevecohen
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Faith in Action. "Pilate: What is truth?The Passion of the Christ." Our Faith in Action (February, 2004).

Our Faith in Action is produced by Current Links in Education.

Resource Links

For biographical information about Pontius Pilate www.newadvent.org/cathen/12083c.htm

Business Ethics magazine's site has numerous articles: www.business-ethics.com/

Loyola Marymount University's Center for Ethics and Business has a wealth of information about business ethics: www.ethicsandbusiness.org/

For the history and text of the Nicene Creed: www.newadvent.org/cathen/11049a.htm

Our Faith in Action Study Guides to The Passion of Christ

Our Faith in Action: About the program
Christ Confronts Evil in The Passion of Christ
Mary Witness to Suffering in The Passion of Christ
Obedience to the Father in The Passion of Christ
What is Truth? The Passion of Christ
Christ's Self-Giving Love in The Passion of Christ


1 posted on 03/29/2013 7:49:44 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Good Friday Ping!


2 posted on 03/29/2013 7:51:29 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Pilate just really didn't care. It was a jewish problem. Let the jews take care of their own.

For Pilate, the ends justify the means. He wants to keep peace, to prevent civil unrest. In his final analysis, the death of an innocent man is an acceptable price to achieve his goal.

3 posted on 03/29/2013 7:51:38 PM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: Salvation; fellowpatriot; MarineMom613; Ron C.; wolfman23601; ColdOne; navymom1; Pat4ever; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

4 posted on 03/29/2013 7:54:00 PM PDT by narses
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5 posted on 03/29/2013 7:54:48 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Pilate believes Christ is innocent, but still allows him to be tortured and killed. Why didn’t he release him?

**********

Pi;ate didn’t want another jewish uprising. He hated where he had been sent, and didn’t want to deal with jewish complaints or problems. He was trying to make a name for himself in Rome and didn’t want anything atanding in his way.

He had Christ crucified because there was something different about Him, something that frightened him. A proposed King.

I watched a show lastnight that said Pilate was murderous and had crucified so many people that he was recalled to Rome where he committed suicide.


6 posted on 03/29/2013 8:11:37 PM PDT by mardi59 (IMPEACH OBAMA NOW!!!!!)
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To: Salvation
Review times in your life when you made a decision just to keep people happy.

Did it work out?

Ask Homer Simpson. I mean, let's be real.

7 posted on 03/29/2013 8:36:31 PM PDT by dr_lew
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To: Salvation

Noteworthy that the blessed Theotokos and Pontius Pilate are the only two human beings named in the Creeds.


8 posted on 03/29/2013 8:37:09 PM PDT by lightman (If the Patriarchate of the East held a state like the Vatican I would apply for political asylum.)
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To: lightman

That’s a different spin on things. LOL!


9 posted on 03/29/2013 8:59:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: mardi59

According to Josephus, in terms of historical context, Pilate was also under suspicion for being involved in some plot against Emperor Tiberius, and the last thing he needed was trouble in Jerusalem from troublemaking Jewish “prophets.” Jesus was the Pharisees’ “problem” anyway, so that’s why he “washed his hands” of it after imposing the crucifixion sentence.


10 posted on 03/30/2013 2:48:46 AM PDT by Timber Rattler (Just say NO! to RINOS and the GOP-E)
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To: Salvation

Do not forget Piliate’s wife, she had a very, very bad dream about all that was going on.


11 posted on 03/30/2013 3:28:12 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Timber Rattler

I remember in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, Piliate was talking to his wife and in that scene, he told her, that the Roman emperior “warned” him that things did not go well in his governing of the ancient Judea providence the emperior would have him executed for it.


12 posted on 03/30/2013 3:32:00 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: 2banana

I sense though, it was both Piliate he did not care but also living in fear of the Roman emperior. Remember by that time the ancient Roman empire became pretty much a brutal dictatorship.


13 posted on 03/30/2013 3:35:48 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: mardi59

I have seen the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” and also have been watching History channel’s “The Bible” and the lesson was very, very clear, the Roman Empire was very, very brutal and Piliate was sent to Judea to keep the peace in that providence.


14 posted on 03/30/2013 3:43:04 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Timber Rattler
"According to Josephus, in terms of historical context, Pilate was also under suspicion for being involved in some plot against Emperor Tiberius"

Pilate was one of Sejanus' men. Sejanus was the head of the Praetorian Guard under Tiberius Caesar and became Tiberius' right hand man. As Sejanus became more powerful he got very ambitious and had designs to take out Tiberius and become Caesar himself. As part of these plans he began placing people loyal to him in positions of power throughout the empire. Pilate was appointed consul of Judea by Sejanus. Tiberius learned of Sejanus' plans and had him executed. Thus, anyone in the Roman empire who had any connection with Sejanus became very nervous.

15 posted on 03/30/2013 3:44:14 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Salvation

Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth”. Interestingly enough, Jesus has just answered that question to his Apostles hours earlier in the upper room. In his High Priestly Prayer Jesus petitions God concerning his Apostles with the words, “Sanctify them in the truth; you word is truth.” (Jn 17:17) Thus, the answer to Pilate’s question is quite clear. What it truth? - God’s word is truth. The only truth.


16 posted on 03/30/2013 3:52:55 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Salvation
Great post. It is true - there is some "Pilate" in all of us - especially withouth the Truth of God to guide us in all of our decisions.

We see the weasels of today, talking about "Gay Marriage."

They are swayed by polls, media questions, and propaganda.

Someone who is firm in the belief that God is real, all Truth comes from God, and the Word of God is Truth will have no problem with the question of homosexuality.

God says homosexuality is wrong, therefore it is.

Gee, how hard was that?

The ultimate problem is that the vast, vast majority of this world rejects God and His authority.

That is why Christ told us the path to Hell is wide.

17 posted on 03/30/2013 4:13:59 AM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: Biggirl; fatima; NYer; narses; kstewskis; SkyDancer
I thought Pilate was shown to be more compassionate in Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ. I was also struck at how weak and effeminate Herod was portrayed. (Not quite as I pictured him to be in the Gospel readings.)

I always think about Pilate forever wondering whether he should dip his toe into a lake. He wanders around the lake for all eternity, unable to decide whether to go swimming or not.

Someone gave me that image years ago and I always think about it during this time of year.

18 posted on 03/30/2013 6:01:51 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country. - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: SkyPilot

Great post. God’s ways are not the ways of man.


19 posted on 03/30/2013 6:03:31 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country. - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Northern Yankee
I always think about Pilate forever wondering whether he should dip his toe into a lake.

An interesting image. Following a dream, hIs wife cautioned him to "leave this innocent man alone". He did not heed her advice. He handed him over to the executioners and washed his hands of Christ's blood. Interestingly enough, there is a mystery associated with Pilate's own death. Some say he committed suicide, others that he was banished and one theory has him converting to christianity. Pontius Pilate is in fact considered a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

I liked Gibson's portrayal of Pilate.


What is truth?

20 posted on 03/30/2013 6:46:57 AM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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To: Salvation

Just goes to show you that post-modernism was alive and well 2000 years ago.


21 posted on 03/30/2013 6:57:37 AM PDT by Gamecock ("Ultimately, Jesus died to save us from the wrath of God." ¬óR.C. Sproul)
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To: Northern Yankee

I never watched the movie.Mel based much of the movie on Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s: “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”book.I read that book and liked it so much didn’t want to watch the movie.It is free online.
http://www.catholicplanet.com/ebooks/Dolorous-Passion.pdf


22 posted on 03/30/2013 7:21:28 AM PDT by fatima (Free Hugs Today :))
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To: NYer
I too thought Pilate's betrayal was well thought out in Gibson's film.

Watched Ben Hur this past week and its interesting to see how Pilate is portrayed in that film.

23 posted on 03/30/2013 7:29:11 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country. - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: fatima; NYer
I have Emmerich's book, and have read it every year during holy Week. One of my favorite books.

Have a blessed Easter!

24 posted on 03/30/2013 7:31:40 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country. - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Northern Yankee

Thanks Northern Yankee,Blessed Easter to you too ((((Hugs))))


25 posted on 03/30/2013 7:54:51 AM PDT by fatima (Free Hugs Today :))
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To: Northern Yankee
Watched Ben Hur this past week ....

One of my all time favorite films!!! I still grip the armrests in this scene:

And the ship galley's scene with the rhythmic beat of hammer to block ... "ramming speed!" However, my favorite scene remains this one:

Fabulous - CLASSIC - film. And Charlton Heston remains one of the best actors in Hollywood history. Here is my Moses!

Easter blessings to you and yours!

26 posted on 03/30/2013 8:16:35 AM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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To: Northern Yankee

Having watched the miniseries on the Bible, and in a special way, the scenes on the life of Christ, I could not help but compare the two presentations of Piliate.

And yes, I have the book version of the “Passion Of The Christ” as well as the movie.


27 posted on 03/30/2013 8:20:36 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: circlecity

Wow, I got an education in ancient history today!


28 posted on 03/30/2013 8:22:30 AM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Salvation

The question that I have is why did the Jewish people not see and accept Jesus as God after he rose from the dead?

I realize many Jews became followers of Christ and there were corrupt Jewish leaders at the time of Christ.

This seems a logical and spirtual question that every Jew should ask himself.


29 posted on 03/30/2013 9:31:59 AM PDT by ADSUM
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To: Biggirl

Indeed!


30 posted on 03/30/2013 10:57:06 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: circlecity

**What it truth? - God’s word is truth. The only truth.**

Great post!


31 posted on 03/30/2013 10:58:48 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: ADSUM

I can’t answer your question either, other than saying that there are many Jews for Jesus now.


32 posted on 03/30/2013 11:03:20 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation; circlecity

I agree. Good post! There’s a lot more about truth in that Gospel (see chapter 8). God is even referred to as the TRUTHFUL ONE. Then, Jesus goes on to have an interesting discussion with the Pharisees or the Jewish leaders (can’t remember)about His Father. They had all claimed that Abraham was their Father and Jesus tells them it is not so and further explains to them that their Father is actually the Father of LIES...because they do not love Him, whom the Father has sent.

It’s a profound description of reality...which they do not want to accept. I see the same thing happening today as people only want to see their own personal idea of what truth is (everything relative)....compared to the actual reality of TRUTH.


33 posted on 03/30/2013 1:46:15 PM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: NYer
Just finished watching The Ten Commandments this morning.

My favorite scene in Ben Hur, along the scene where Jesus gives water to Judah Ben Hur, is the crucifixion scene. The healing of Judah's sister and mother amidst the storm tears me up. Judah recounting the sword being taken out of his hand, figuratively, at the foot of the cross is breathtaking.

And the scene at the end as the Shepherd takes the flock of sheep past Golgotha, at sunrise is priceless.

34 posted on 03/30/2013 5:00:29 PM PDT by Northern Yankee (Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country. - Benjamin Franklin)
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