Abortion and the Way of Crowds

Not long ago, I spent my first morning standing outside of the local abortion clinic, praying as part of 40 Days for Life.  It’s hard to describe that first experience, to find words that sound neither prideful nor despairing. The environment was both somber and joyous, almost at once, and perhaps that’s right — that something terrible and something glorious were both happening, very quietly, in very close quarters.  The same happened about two thousand years ago, and I found myself reflecting on that when, in the moment, I needed a reference to keep me on track and looked up Rosary Army’s Scriptural Rosary.

For instance, in the reflection for the third sorrowful mystery, we read:

[Then Pilate] took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (Mt 27:24)

I wonder how many fall, intentionally or unintentionally, into this mentality. While, yes, it was the crowd calling for blood, Pilate could have done the right thing. He could have defied the crowd, despite the personal cost. He went along with them, however. He saved himself and his family much trouble by letting the crowd have their way, and letting the blame fall on them. “Let his blood be upon us!” we shout during the Passion narrative each year.  Some supporters of abortion would say the same, I suspect — let the blood be upon us. We’ll take the blame, because we don’t see a problem with it.

And so there is a temptation to go the way of Pilate, to say that I’m not doing it. I’m not supporting it. It’s them.

The reflection continues:

And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”
“Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (Jn 19:14-15)

Notice that the crowd never replies, directly, to the question of Jesus’ innocence. They reply, instead, to the question of legality. Caesar is our king, and we must obey the law.  Why? Because the law is what we want right now. They never reply to Pilate’s claim that Jesus is innocent. There are no shouts of “we don’t care!” They simply ignore that fact and focus on the law. It’s legal, so we can do it. It is legal to put this innocent to death, so see it done. Don’t talk to us about innocence or guilt. Just see it done.

It’s so easy to focus on the law, when the law is making it easy to do the easy thing. It’s so hard to focus on objective reality, on right and wrong, when they make it hard to do the hard, correct thing. We must be mindful of our own inner Pilates, washing our moral hands because it’s not us doing it. It’s them, the crowd.  It’s legal. It’s what they want. What can I do?

Copyright 2015, Joe Wetterling

Image courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jes%C3%BAs_en_casa_de_An%C3%A1s_Museo_del_Prado_Jos%C3%A9_de_Madrazo.jpg

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, homeschooling dad, and writer. He's appeared at national conferences, both secular and religious, speaking on education, technology, and philosophy. Joe writes online for New Evangelizers, as well as his own blogs. He's taught in the Holy Apostles MOOC program and currently teaches Natural Theology at the new Dominican Institute. He's a member of the Militia Immaculata and current President of the Catholic Writers Guild. Learn more about him at JoeWetterling.com.

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