O Procla!

O Procla! October 28, 2020

She had a revelation that put together all she had seen and knew.

One woman confronted power and tried to save Jesus. She knew the Governor, she knew God, and she had a dream. Her name was Procla and when history was heading toward hundreds of years of Imperial rule, she stood for justice, her memory is eternal.

The church remembers Procla, the wife of Pontius Pilate, the governor that bowed to a mob and killed Jesus. Who can know why for certain, but at the moment when Governor Pilate met his great moment in history, he failed, utterly failed. It may be, history and the tradition are unclear, that Pilate repented his crime against justice. Who knows? We do know that a certain sort of religious leader had sold their values for power. These men had made a political calculus that it was good for one man, Jesus, to die for the people. Decisions were not being made “for the people,” but to keep the cozy relationship that such leaders had with the colonial Roman power.

That colonial power Rome squashed her erstwhile allies, the Jewish people. This proud people refused to go quietly into the Empire and the Roman peace was hard to maintain even with troops. As colonial powers tend to do, the Romans looked for local leaders they could co-opt. Some of the oppressed sold out for money. A few thought that a transactional relationship, support for survival, was necessary. These were tough times. The Romans worked through locals when they could, placated domesticated “leaders,” and used them to talk to the people of Palestine.

There is always a job for the useful idiot in a tyranny. The best from the point of view of the colonial power is the scrupulous man, careful to follow the rules, owner of a perpetually worried brow. This man is credible to the occupied, because of his sincerity, even if the Romans feed him. This inside man, a friend of the Romans, means well, intends well, and over time becomes proud of his position. He has access to the Governor and also to the people. After a time, he becomes proud of his role and does well, he thinks, by doing good. All of that good living is “for the people,” since the Romans anticipate his entertaining them in style.

Suddenly, a miracle worker, so called, and teacher comes out the lower class. These people do not understand how delicate the compromises must be. As the popularity of the man who preaches justice grows, envy increases in the useful idiot. Isn’t he the voice of the people? What if the Romans decide he no longer is in touch with the folks? Will he lose favor?

Meanwhile, the Governor’s house has a truth teller. Procla has kept her eyes open, has heard much, and felt strongly All of this information churned within her and then revelation from God put the truth together for her. Procla went to Pilate and told the truth. Pilate knew she was right. Why was Jesus there?

The historical account says:

For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

19When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

We all have dreams. Sometimes they are vivid, but unreal, some working out of irrational passions. At other times, perhaps, God sends dreams, intense and clear, that put together what we know. We wake up and try to dismiss what we have seen in our sleep, but the more we think about what we have seen and the dream, the more the dream puts truth all together. Procla knew Palestine. She knew the players and then the dream put all the pieces together.

This woman, this brave saint, got a revelation, stood for justice, and spoke truth to power. She confronted power and tried to save Jesus, but she could not. Jesus did not need saving, the Son of God had all the power He needed, but Procla could not know this fact. She stood for what seemed to be another victim of systemic Roman injustice.

Pilate knew what great Caesar wanted: a Roman peace. Pilate saw what the useful idiots wished: crush this rebel with a cause. He ignored Procla and so lived in infamy. There is hope, however, for Blessed Procla stayed nearby and (perhaps) Pilate kept thinking about his one, biggest, worst, decision. God helping him, Pilate may have repented. Thank God for strong people like Procla.

Pray for us Holy Procla!

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