Catholic Churches throughout the world proclaim this Gospel today; the Gospel of the Passion of our Lord. He came to the world; he went up to the Holy City to fulfill what the Father had asked from Him. He did it, and we love him for it.
May we never forget that our Lord’s story is our story too. If we are to live with Christ, then we must live like Christ. We too, must follow in his footsteps and go through our Gethsemane, our Passion, our Death and, God willing, our Resurrection.
I share with you today some reflections on the word of the Lord.
“One of the Twelve.” If you ever thought that your life had no value, then think again. Yes, I am more than capable of doing either great good or great harm to those around me. Judas did great harm. And the Lord’s life on earth came to an end because of his betrayal. Friendships end the same way, with a sense of betrayal. Many plotted against the Lord, but it was one of his friends, one of his closest friends, that put the entire procedure in motion. This said, the Lord was still able to transform it for great good; Good Friday.
“Surely, it is not I, Rabbi.” Even to the end, evil disguises itself as good. It is remarkable how Judas, having spent so much time with the Lord, was unable to recognize who Christ truly is. He is not a rabbi, He is THE LORD! The other Apostles said the same thing, but differently: “Surely, it is not I, Lord.” What a difference it makes! Do I still have a hard time recognizing who Jesus is? Is he still just a great man, teacher or guru to me? May the Lord open our hearts and mind to the reality that Jesus is the Son of God. When that day comes, it will drastically improve the way I see my life, my decisions and even my death.
“This night all of you will have your faith shaken.” Yes, there will come a night when my life and my faith are shaken. I dread that day! because I know it will come. If you have not yet experienced a night of sweat, tears and fear, then God bless you! But do not hold your breath. The day will come when my world and my life will begin to fall apart. Have no fears, for the Lord gave us the means to persevere. He gave us the example of his life and what to do to overcome all fears: He taught us how to pray. Jesus said the prayer that God never refuses! Jesus taught us the most powerful prayer EVER: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” May we end each evening with the same words: “Lord, do whatever you want with me.” I know, it is a very scary prayer. But it produces a tremendous amount of graces. It is the prayer that every Christian should say. And once you are ready to say it, get ready for the greatest adventure (story) ever!
“You could not stay awake with me for one hour?” The Apostles had all these great plans, dreams and desires with the Lord. Who would sit where? Who would be in charge of this and that and the other thing? But the details killed them! Yes, the details. It kills most of our dreams and plans. Why? “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” They miscalculated, just like we do, in one thing: We think we are stronger than we really are. We never envisioned what it would take to get to the top.
“He kissed him.” Once again, evil disguises itself as good - even to the end! A twisted world we live in because it is controlled by sin. It is a world gone mad where good is bad and bad is good.
“Peter took out his sword, drew it, and struck…” We really think we can do this all on our own. I think I can conquer all my fears, addictions, temptations, difficulties, challenges and trials on my own. Please, think again. “Without me, you can do nothing.” This is a time for prayer, not for striking out!
“Prophesy for us: Who struck you?” The greatest blasphemy ever is not calling God names or ridiculing him or striking at him. The greatest blasphemy ever is insisting that God must do whatever I ask of Him! A good day is when God says “yes” to me, right? And a bad day is when God says, “No” to me. Do I still believe this? Do I still insist on this! Must God be me?
“Judas departed and went off and hanged himself.” Evil destroys itself. May I never resort to the same.
“Choose: Barabbas or Jesus called Christ!” The name Barabbas is very interesting. Bar-abbas means, “Son of the Father.” And we preferred the false god to the real one. We will always prefer idols over the true God because the false idols cannot talk back. They are made of stone. The real God is made of flesh and love. He has a voice and a will that is second to none.
“Let him be crucified.” The crowd cried out, “crucify him!” It’s wasn’t good enough for me to just let him be. No, I must crucify Him so that I can live. I must make him suffer so that I can taste and see my revenge upon Him. This is the attitude of the murderer. This is the attitude of the victim. This is the attitude of the one who cannot let go. This is the attitude of the very lonely and lost.
"A Cyrenian named Simon was pressed into service to carry his cross." It's definitive! God wants us to participate in the History of Salvation. We are called to do our part for the salvation of the world. Just when you are about to give up or can no longer carry your cross, God's miracle occurs: someone from nowhere shows up and helps.
“It is finished.” The Passion of the Lord is a reminder that my life, even in times of suffering, has great meaning. If the Lord gives you the grace to say a few words before you die, then they should be similar to the Lord’s. We should all say, at the end of our lives, “It is finished.” This means, Mission accomplished. I came to do your will.
The Passion of the Lord is a true story. It is my story too. Throughout my life I have played various roles. I have been a traitor who betrayed a friend, a soldier who treated others with scorn and hurtful words, a man who has washed his hands of responsibility, and one who thought he knew himself well. The purpose of being a Christian is to imitate no one other than the Son of God on the stage of the world.
May the Lord give us the strength to be more like His son in the way we speak and treat others, cost whatever it costs, and receive the eternal reward of everlasting life. Amen.