C O U R S E L E C T U R E
Who was Responsible for the Death of Jesus
Notes taken on October 30, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
the week of Christ's passion
the most important moment in the Gospels
the defining moment was Jesus' death on the cross
who was responsible for the death of Jesus
the answer the Catholic catechism provides is denying that the Jews as a collective were responsible for this death
"We cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept the ignorance of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders."
"Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture."
if the Jews are not to blame for the death of Jesus, then who is, the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured. Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone."
Catechism of the Council of Trent (1563)
aided priests to preach the Gospel
prompted by the Protestant Reformation
was the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation
"We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorder and crimes, crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of Paul the Apostle, 'None of the rules of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory'. We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him."
it isn't the sins of the Jews in the first century that led to Christs' death, it is our sins, the sins of the Church
when we read the Gospels, we shouldn't focus on the role of Judas, the Synhedrion , or Pontius Pilate
the trial before the chief priest and scribes
"And they led Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled."
"Now the chief priests and the whole council cought testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none."
interrupting these accounts is an extraneous piece of information
"And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest, and he was sitting with the guards, and warming himself at the fire."
this curious mode of telling a story is not uncommon in Mark's Gospel
scholars refer to it as a sandwich construction
one story has been inserted into the middle of another one
it indicates that these two stories took place at the same time
it asks us as readers to ponder what is the relationship between these two stories
Peter does not condemn Jesus as part of the formal trial
yet he persistently denies any association with Jesus
he does this three separate times
in his last denial, he swears an oath
Jesus had warned all the disciples that they would abandon him in his hour of need
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.
the rest of the disciples remain silent, but Peter rebukes Jesus
"Even though they all fall away, I will not."
Jesus realized this sentence as the ill-advised bluster it was
"Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times. But Peter said vehemently, If I must die with you, I will not deny you. And they all said the same."
in Jewish law, someone who violates a law after being explicitly warns is far more guilty than someone who acts on their own
the Gospel writing makes it clear that the culpability of the Jewish leaders was negligible, since they did not know who it was they were putting to death
Peter declares later in Acts
"And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers."
but the disciples are supposed represent the nascent Church
their actions represent our actions
the image from the Joseph story returns
just as the other brothers lower Joseph into a pit and sold him into Egypt, only to be later saved from famine by him
so the disciples reject Jesus in his hour of need only to be forgiven by him after the resurrection
both Joseph and Jesus are rejected by those closest to him
paradoxically the very act of rejection in both of these stories, becomes the means for those who reject of their eventual salvation