Musical Dialogue for Holy Week
Pilate - Baritone, Claudia Procula - Mezzo soprano
Optional chorus (easy) and piano
Saturday, 29 A.D. is a dramatic dialogue based on the characters of
Pontius Pilate and his wife. The trial before Pilate is related in all four gospels,
but his wife is mentioned only in the Matthew Passion. Pilate is
vilified as the man who sends Christ to his death. His wife only appears
briefly as one who sends word to Pilate. "Have nothing to do with that
innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream
about him", she warns. Historically, Pilate was married to Claudia Procula, the
illegitimate (and favorite) daughter of Caesar Augustus. According to
tradition, Claudia is said to have converted to Christianity shortly
after Jesus' death and become a rather prominent missionary of the early
church. The plot of this drama is the conflict between ancient Rome and the Jews, but in a larger sense, unbelievers and believers. Claudia
represents true faith while Pilate holds to his duty and his country. It was important then, dramatically, to give Claudia a reason for her
conversion this early in history. It was decided that she should be the
unnamed woman in the marketplace who was healed by touching the hem of
Jesus' garment. The drama proceeds under the assumption that Pilate is
also aware of this.
Pilate, in this story, is the tragic figure. He knows who and what Jesus is. Not just in the physical sense, but also as a spiritual entity. He must decide Christ's fate and try as he might to shift the decision elsewhere, it is ultimately his to make. He gave Jesus four chances to save himself, he reasons, and four times Jesus refused.
Although Pilate and Claudia are the main characters, it soon becomes evident that they represent more than the two historical figures. Pilate becomes "Everyman" and is faced with the choice of accepting Christ for what he was and is or rejecting him totally. Claudia becomes the antagonist, pushing Pilate to a final decision. Just as Pilate gave Jesus four chances to save himself, so Claudia presents four arguments, or opportunities, for Pilate to be redeemed. "He is the living water," she says, "and even now, you may be saved." Finally with the words "I wash my hands of this Jesus of Nazareth", Pilate's fate is decided. He has chosen the way of destruction. With the words "I know no sin but treason", he seals his ties to Rome and the world.