Saturday, November 10, 2018
After the crucifixion of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jerusalem leadership, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed His body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. – John 19:38-40
It appears that both Joseph from the town Arimathea and Nicodemus were esteemed members of the Sanhedrin, the city council of Jerusalem. They may or may not have been members of the executive committee of the Sanhedrin, the ones who probably questioned Jesus after His arrest in the Garden. But still, Joseph and Nicodemus were among the leadership of Jerusalem, and also were clandestine supporters of Christ. But they were silent during this plot to rid themselves of this contrarian from Nazareth and were afraid to come out of the closet for fear of themselves being accused. But for some reason … they appeared to be ready to handle the funereal matters of Christ’s body. And as the years passed, legend has it that they both became leaders in the early Church.
How many more of the Sanhedrin were sympathetic to Jesus’ teaching? How many more were keeping silent lest they themselves might be accused?
Groups tend to keep the dissenters in line by way of peer pressure and intimidation. It happens in social groups, tribal groups, political organizations and even in religious institutions. They demand loyalty to the “company line” even when that loyalty requires an abandonment of conscience. Heretics are excommunicated and protestors are thrown in jail … and so there are always many who are silent out of fear.
Perfect love casts out fear, both the fear we ourselves experience and the fear we ourselves draw forth from within others. I am of a tradition that supposedly believes that Christian maturity involves progress toward a More Perfect Love. But the desire to control others by enforcing a uniformity of beliefs so often keeps us from that further maturity. So I believe Christ would counsel us to seek not to control the beliefs of one another, but rather to so mature in our Loving that fear is no longer needed.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz