There are few things in life that strike us deeper than being wrongly accused. Alarm bells go off inside of us and the indignation rises, as our sense of justice is offended. We think, “How dare they…!” We revolt against the accusation, mounting our defense against the facts as presented.
It’s one thing to be accused of something of which we are actually guilty. In these cases, we have an internal debate about whether to tell the truth or not. This often involves finding excuses for ourselves, blaming others, selectively telling part of the truth, or any other number of falsities or half-truths to get us through the situation without bruising our ego. A great amount of energy is expended on this internal process, so as to project the most flattering picture of ourselves toward others.
Yet when we are wrongly accused – or when we think that we have been wrongly accused – our sense of justice rises to the forefront. There is no stopping our zeal to uncover the truth (for our own benefit, of course) and to make a good defense before our accusers. We imagine that we are uniting ourselves to God because, after all, isn’t God concerned about justice and righting the wrongs? As Christians, we know that we should strive to unite ourselves to God; and we might even imagine that these defenses are divinely guided. But in the hymns of Holy Week we see a very different picture:
“‘Let Him be crucified!’ cried they who had always enjoyed Your gifts of grace,… those slayers of the righteous. But You, O Christ, were silent, enduring their impudence, for You willed to suffer and to save us, in Your love for humanity.” (Orthros of Holy Thursday Evening, Hymn from the 8th Antiphon)
Silence. This is what our Lord reveals to us in His passion and crucifixion. The Just One was accused falsely, yet He remained silent before their accusation. He made no defense, nor argument against their slander. For this reason, He is likened to an innocent lamb, Who silently and willingly goes to His slaughter.
“Today the Master of creation stands before Pilate; the Creator of all is delivered to be crucified; like a lamb, He is brought of His own will to the Cross.” (Orthros of Holy Thursday Evening, Hymn from the Praises)
That path leading to Golgotha is not only Christ’s. It is our own. As followers of Christ, we must also take up our cross of crucifixion and enter into the same death as Christ. This is extremely hard, yet we are not alone. Our Lord walks with us, carries our cross, and joins us in our own death and resurrection.
One profound way in which we can join Christ, is through bearing false accusation. When we refrain from defending ourselves, we unite ourselves to God – and we place our trust in Him, that anything which should come to light will be brought to the light by Him. We have the example of the saints, stories like that of St. Makarios the Great, who silently endured the accusation of having fathered a child.
Ultimately we must realize that we are not responsible for our own defense. When we refrain from defending ourselves, we are boldly asking God to defend us. It is a place of humility and patience, in which God resides with us. May we, following the example of Christ, be steadfast in our silence and unrelenting in our trust of God.