Can we see ourselves in the characters with key roles in Christ 5 last days on earth?
The story of the Passion of Christ both can sear one’s senses yet nurture one’s soul at the same time.
It is ironic that while Jesus preaches the message of love -by dying for one’s friends- the Roman centurions and the heartless mob inflict needless and gut-wrenching brutality upon Jesus, the God-Man.
Jesus could have climbed ane get crucified in Golgotha-the worst sentence that could me meted on man at that time and still effectour salvation.
Yet Jesus allowed all the physical and psychological battering- the humiliation of being ridiculed, spat upon,boxed, slapped, kicked, whipped with lashes and metals with protruding nails- and crowned with the demeaning Â crown of thorns.
The Jews wanted to prove that the Christ was the King of Nothing.
On Good Friday we will all be moved again at the pitiful sight of an abused man but at the same time wonder about the enormity of This Man’s love for mankind.
At the end, the lifeless body of Christ is taken down from the cross and there is no inch left in his anatomy that is without blood or wound. Through this all, there is nary an an angered look,a disturbed wince or complaint for every blow and insult He took to the final pounding of the Â the thick and long nails into His hands and feet.
All we hear is a studied groan,a cry of utter pain and sometimes a partial collapse from exhaustion. One cannot imagine how even a well-built carpenter like Jesus Â could physically endure Â such threshold of pain and be able to make it to the hills.
The Roman soldiers were sadists of the first order, themselves brutalized by the cruelty Â of war and the mob wanted the blood of a “False God” even if His very suffering was the source of their own redemption. They needed a punching bag, a silent victim to vent their Â psychological excesses in a physical way on a near hapless man.
It is hard to imagine such sadism inflicted on a Man who through His life preached of the forgiveness of enemies and those who persecute us.
In a way, it tells us how difficult is is indeed to live the Gospel of Christian love in this highly secular,materialistic and utilitarian world. But it is captured in Jesus ‘ answer to the question as toÂ how man can be saved:” Take up your cross daily and come follow Me”.
Pontius Pilate reminds us of politicians Â who take the most expedient,practical route in making decisions-afraid of the people’s rebellion (kotowing to what is popular ,not to what is just) and fearful of the vengeance of a Caesar, his lord and source of political strength.
Judas Iscariot Â reminds us of the judges, the media and the cops (some) who sell their jobs for 30 pieces of silver. That Judas hanged himself Â on Â a tree as a suicidal act was not so much because he realized that he was cursed (where’s the free will?) but because he realized that he had the power of choice and chose badly. And chose silver to betray his Master.
Jesus’s merciful treatment of a village prostitute in Mary Magdalene -teaches one the lesson of being less judgmental about people since all of us (by the sin of Adam) has inherited his fallen nature.”Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone to Magdalene” Jesus said as the crowd disperses in shame.
The denial of Peter as the cock crowed thrice brings us to the reality of the vulnerability Â and the humanity of the Catholic Hierarchy. Though the religion is based on the foundation of the Rock, that is St Peter- some of its clergy do not practice what they preach. As as so humanly displayed by the faltering Peter.
Like the runner sometimes stumbles.
The role of Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross emphasizes that we cannot be fence sitters all our lives. Sometimes, we will be called Â to intervene for a cause larger than our own- for certain acts of courage.
Dimas, the Good Thief, merited redemption by asking for his sins’ forgiveness and requesting Jesus to take him to heaven. Though nearly dead, Jesus lifted His head and that day brought the Good Thief into Paradise.
We see this episode many times in theÂ changed lives of people who in the twilight of their lives begin to repair their soul and seal redemption with the divine Grace of timing and reconciliation.
The whole Holy Week which will be littered with so many scenes of violence and betrayal will be capped by a glorious ending on Easter Sunday- fulfilling the thesis that love is stronger than hate and fear.
In the end Love conquers all- and love will stand when everything else has fallen.
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