We have had the opportunity to be with Him as He was received with shouts of "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"; as He instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood; to stay and pray or to fall asleep in His darkest hour.
We have walked with Him as He was betrayed...even betraying Him ourselves perhaps; followed Him as He was deserted, beaten, illegally tried, condemned, inhumanely tortured, spit upon, and ridiculed. We were there as the shouts turned to "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
We have witnessed Him carrying the cross, falling under the weight of the cross, crawling under the weight of the cross; already so near death that Simon is forcibly pressed into service to help Him. Perhaps for a moment, we helped Him as well.
We have witnessed Him take our sins upon Himself so that the chains of sin can be broken.
Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life thus bringing death into the world. Jesus, the Lamb of God, hung on a tree of death bringing the gift of everlasting life to a world that does not deserve Him, desperately needs Him, and obstinately rejects Him.
We had the opportunity to be present as our Lord gave us to His mother and gave His mother to us; to be there as He gave up His Spirit, died for us, and was laid in the tomb.
This is where we find ourselves today.
I set out last week to blog about the Passion of Jesus through the eyes of the witnesses. When I stated that goal, I thought that I would use material I have written in the past and posted in other locations. Well, let's just say that it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, and almost all of the material had to be re-thought, re-written, etc. It turns out that this was good for me though, and it made for a more reflective Holy Week for me than it would have been.
One last thing, before I conclude; while I tried to capture the experience of many of the witnesses, the series is certainly not all-inclusive. We can and should identify with many of these and other witnesses of the events of that first Holy Week.
Who are YOU in the Passion of the Christ?
The Pharisees – Knowledgeable of religion, its practices and traditions, but unable to see that God is in our midst…so busy with what we think is important that we are deaf to what Jesus is telling us is really important.
Judas - When we grow weary that the mission of Jesus may not be what we want it to be. We become self-absorbed, thinking that we know better than God. In choosing our own will over God's Will, we betray Him.
Peter – When we allow fear to overwhelm us. When we are afraid to stand up for what is right and true. When we are afraid to proclaim or even acknowledge our Faith. When, although we have walked with Jesus, touched Him, spoken with Him, seen the wonders He has done…right in front of us; we run away at the most critical of times.
The crowd – When we close God out and listen to others and allow them to influence us to accuse others wrongly or to shout for blood.
Herod – Reducing Jesus to some small wonder-worker or looking for some magical sign.
Pilate – When we give in to the crowd telling us what to do, pressuring us to do something…even when we know it isn't right. Or when we are so caught up in ourselves and our own worries that we attempt to create our own truth or deny there is such a thing as truth…even when THE TRUTH, Christ is there before us.
The soldiers – When we continue to sin, although our sins tear at, bruise, scourge, and pierce our Lord…all while He is pleading for us, "Father, forgive them." Here, the word He uses is ABBA, a word that was really used by young children when addressing their fathers. A word that may be better translated as "Daddy". "Daddy, forgive them."
The scoffing criminal crucified next to Jesus – When we allow ourselves to become so angry and bitter that we are actually angry and bitter with God.
Perhaps we are like some of these people. Perhaps we are like all of these people. One thing is for sure though. We are, each and every one of us;
Barabbas – the notorious sinner who truly deserved to die, and in fact had already been condemned to death…but instead, Jesus, our God who humbled Himself and became one of us, took our place on the cross and died for us so that we might live.
It's hard to accept that we are like many of these people, that we hurt the Lord by our actions. But it's important to remember that while we are not perfect, we are not totally imperfect either. It gives me hope to see myself in some of the other witnesses as well. Maybe we are like:
Simon - Yes, at first reluctant to carry the cross, but picking it up anyway; and certainly transformed by that journey to Golgotha and seeing a forgiving Christ praying and offering Himself for all...for you.
Veronica - When we see Jesus in the poor, the weak, the innocent yet condemned of the world; and we don't just stand by...we act!
Mary - When we love our children so much; knowing that they are really a part of us; feeling, really feeling the pain that they suffer; wishing that we could make the hurt go away....submitting to the Will of God, no matter how painful.
The penitent thief - When we accept what we truly deserve but find the Grace and the courage to rely on Divine Mercy...and receive it!
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