Through the eyes of a six-year-old, Caleb Massa, Pittsburgh

But Jesus said nothing

Mark 15:1-5 Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law … bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

[For other details of this scene, see Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 18-19.]

Luke 12:7, 11-12 Don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows … When you are brought to trial … don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.

It’s tough to stay calm and quiet when unfair accusations are leveled against us. Don’t we instinctively want to defend ourselves and demand justice? Doing so can, though, play right into an aggressor’s hands. He or she now has something concrete to fight back against. A latecomer—say, a schoolteacher called to a bullying situation—may not be able to tell who started it.

What does calm stillness accomplish? For one thing, it can defuse escalation. When only one party is yelling and threatening violence, while the other is silent, the dynamics change. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated the power of nonviolent response through the long story of the struggle for basic human rights. As in the case of Jesus, courageous people preferred to be killed than to lower themselves to their accusers’ tactics.

Six-year-old Caleb Massa gave considerable thought to Jesus standing silent before Pilate and the crowd of accusers as he painted a picture for the first Station of the Cross, part of the observance at our church of Good Friday.** Art can communicate even more than the artist had in mind. So before you read Caleb’s thoughts (below), what does this picture say to you about Jesus as he stood before Governor Pilate and the yelling, angry crowd?

Jesus is Condemned to Death, by Caleb Massa

Here’s part of Caleb’s description of his work:

“I painted Jesus huge because Jesus is really big, because he is God. Part of his face is not in the painting because he’s so big. The crowd is at the bottom. Pilate is sitting on a chair. You don’t see any of their faces except Jesus. The background is black because it’s a very sad scene.”

This big, solid, strong, calm Jesus lives inside of me and inside of you through the Holy Spirit. He is with us always. We aren’t alone, ever, even in situations of injustice and threat. We can ask him for help to know what to say and what not to say when we are slandered—even when we ourselves are our own accusers! Caleb’s painting will help me to remember that.

**Traditionally, there are fourteen Stations of the Cross. Church of the Ascension observes eight stations. Each year, a member of the church—a child, young person, or adult—creates art for each station. A guide to this year’s creations says this: “The making of each Station is a labor of love, a formative practice in which the artists participate with the Holy Spirit to reveal afresh the Passion of Christ.” Each artist has given me permission to post his or her work on this blog. I am grateful to each of them.

5 thoughts on “Through the eyes of a six-year-old, Caleb Massa, Pittsburgh

  1. Yes–and about to move to the UK with his musician parents while his dad works on a PhD in classical composition at Durham University! Angela–when can we get together??


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