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Lenten Reflection: Day 40

Gospel, Mark 15: 1-39

Luke has also laid open the false charges which they brought against Him; for he thus relates it: And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. No one can feel it a difficulty that Matthew is silent as to their asking some one to be released unto them, which Mark here mentions; for it is a thing of no consequence that one should mention a thing which another leaves out. There follows: But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered him for envy.

Some one may ask, which were the words of which Pilate made use, those which are related by Matthew, or those which Mark relates; for there seems to be a difference between, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? as Matthew has it; and, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? (Matt. 27:17) as is here said. But since they gave to kings the name of Christs, he who said this man or that must have asked whether they wished the King of the Jews to be released unto them, that is, Christ. It makes no difference to the sense that Mark has said nothing of Barabbas, wishing only to mention what belonged to the Lord, since by their answer he sufficiently shewed whom they wished to have released to them. For there follows, But the Chief Priests moved the people that he should rather release unto them Barabbas.


But we must understand that the words of Matthew, they put on him a scarlet robe, Mark expresses by clothed him in purple; for that scarlet robe was used by them in derision for the royal purple, and there is a sort of red purple, very like scarlet. It may also be that Mark mentions some purple which the robe had about it, though it was of a scarlet colour. It appears that Matthew and Mark here relate things which took place previously, not that they happened when Pilate had already delivered Him to be crucified. For John says that these things took place at Pilate’s house; but that which follows, And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put on him his own clothes, must be understood to have taken place last of all, when He was already being led to be crucified.

…This also he most of all wondered at, that after that voice which He sent forth as a figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His spirit. For the spirit of the Mediator shewed that no penalty of sin could have had power to cause the death of His flesh; for it did not leave the flesh unwillingly, but as it willed, for it was joined to the Word of God in the unity of person.

The above is an excerpt from St. Augustine’s homily on the Palm Sunday Gospel.