I Can’t Find Veronica in the Bible



Dear Catholic Exchange:

Where in the Bible is Veronica mentioned? In our Stations of the Cross it says that Veronica wiped the face of Jesus. I would like to know where it says that in the Bible.

Bonnie Weigel

Dear Bonnie:

It's not in the Bible. The Veronica tradition is a part of Catholic piety associated with the Veronica veil, a cloth bearing an image of the face of Christ. It may or may not be genuine. The fact that the story is not in Scripture does not necessarily mean it never happened. The assassination of Julius Caesar is not in Scripture either, but it certainly occurred. As John says, there are many things Jesus did that were not written (Jn 21:25).

What is written in Scripture is recorded for the sake of our salvation… The Veronica story is a lovely one and an aid to prayer for some. It may even have happened. But it is not essential to our Faith.

Mark Shea

Senior Content Editor

Catholic Exchange

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Dear Catholic Exchange:

I have recently read that one possible motivation for the Jewish leaders' push for Jesus' death was in fear of Him leading a rebellion against the Roman powers.

Earlier, the leaders make reference to other rebels and how they never came to be any real threat so the high priest decided to let Jesus alone. Can we suppose the threat became more imminent as Jesus' followers became more vocal? One article I read mentioned that the Jewish leaders feared destruction of the temple and exile from the Roman leaders if they perceived Jesus' claim as King of the Jews to be political. In today's article, the author makes no mention of this when speaking of Pilate, he seems to say the Romans would not have seen Jesus as a threat and he doesn't mention this motivation from the Jews at all. Any opinion from your staff?

Thank you,

Martha Waid

Dear Martha:

We know the Jewish leadership feared Jesus for a multiplicity of reasons, including the possibility that Jesus' messianic claims could lead to Roman reprisals. John records just such a conversation:

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, “What are we to do?For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on thus, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they took counsel how to put Him to death. (Jn 11:47-53).

What John never lets us forget, however, is the supernatural background to the hostility Jesus encounters. The weird thing about this meeting is that it was called in response to news that Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead. The curious blindness that drives the leaders to simply dismiss this and every other sign Jesus has worked and to focus strictly on “practical politics” (as it is called by fools) is part of the irony of John's Gospel (a gospel filled with irony). Likewise, the words of Caiaphas are ironic, for what he mean in hostility, God will work in earnest. Jesus really will die so that a whole people will not perish.

There were, in fact, many reasons for the hostility to Jesus and they often (as here) do not make sense. There is a reason Scripture speaks of, the “mystery of evil.” Evil, at bottom, is the rejection of God, who is light and truth and reason itself. Therefore, evil will be, at bottom, murky, false, and absurd.

It is often asserted that the real driving force behind Jesus' death was Pilate and that the Gospels shifted the blame to the Jewish leaders in order to suck up to Roman powers. But there is little evidence of this. Pilate was, to be sure, a brutal man. But the fact is, the New Testament gives every indication that the Apostles saw the ruling classes in Jerusalem as being the principal opponents of both Christ and themselves. And this for a very good reason: they were Jews who believed that the real focus of God's dealings with men was through Christ and the Jewish covenants that had preceded Him. The Romans were, from the Apostles' perspective, supporting characters, not the main act. Pilate is, of course, culpable for his cowardice. But Jesus and the Apostles also regard the Temple elite as playing a significant role. Political reasons factor in here. But so do envy of Jesus, fear of the unknown, pride, bureaucratic inertia, self-willed spiritual blindness, ignorance, and numerous other factors. It was a very complex stew of human motivations.

Mark Shea

Senior Content Editor

Catholic Exchange

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