This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
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O God, give me the grace to accept my share in your Son’s passion. Help me to acknowledge the harm I have done to my Savior and to my brothers and sisters. I beg of you, give me the grace of authentic sorrow and tears. I ask this through the sorrowful passion of your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
+ Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
Am I standing in front of the Lord? Have I come out with lantern and weapon in hand? When did I do this? Every time I was quick to judge someone and condemn them. My weapon is my tongue. It is swift and cunning. It knows what to blurt out and where to strike. When was the last time I cut someone down – and not because they did something to me, but because I was jealous or envious of them?
+ Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”
Peter had to deny the Lord three times. He absolutely had to do it. He was in a bad situation. Imagine what would have happened to the early Church if Peter had died before the Lord? Would it have even gotten off the ground?
This is what I kept telling myself for years. I’m pretty good at finding good excuses for just about everything, even denying the Lord.
Peter felt bad because he denied the Lord three times. When was the last time I felt bad after denying the Lord? Oh my goodness. How many times have I denied the Lord? I can’t even count. But of course I had to. Otherwise, I would have lost my job or never earned that raise or never been promoted or considered CEO material. Hey, it’s a tough world out there. And someone has to bend. I’m pretty flexible.
I know someone who isn’t: a young lady who just graduated from law school and at the top of her class. She was invited by a very prestigious law journal to write an article for them. She did. It was against abortion. Guess what? The article never got published. Did she ruin her career before it even got off the ground? Not at all. In fact, she earned the respect of a very prestigious lawyers guild. This young lady will be a tremendous asset against the abortion-industrial-political complex. She will be amazing. Why? Because she loves the Lord above all things and wants to serve Him before others.
I need to remember this the next time I feel embarrassed by Christ.
+ Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Why did he ask? Why do we even wonder?
+ …Jesus said to him, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
We all cherish the truth, right? Not so fast. I don’t think so. I think we cherish being right more than being in the truth; in being found innocent when guilty, than guilty when guilty. I also think we would do whatever it takes to hide the truth from others.
I’ve gotten into enough debates to know when people are not at all interested in the truth; that is, when they argue only for the sake of arguing or to better their debating skills. No wonder the Lord remained silent before Pontius Pilate. He knew he was wasting his breath.
“What is truth?” What a question! It’s an interesting question given the fact the Romans and Greeks knew better than anyone else what truth is: That which corresponds to reality.
So the question now is: Am I living in the truth? Am I who I claim to be? Am I living in the image and likeness of Christ?
+ Dressed in a purple cloak and wearing a crown of thorns, Pilate went out and said to the [crowd]: “Look, I am bringing him out to you.”
The type of God we want is the one that we can dress and who will march to every one of our orders.
There’s no doubt. Throughout the decades, the humanity and divinity of Jesus has been disfigured by countless numbers of ambitious men and women. And just like His body, His life has become unrecognizable to many.
So many want to own Jesus like their personal property: communists and atheists, liberals and conservatives, environmentalists and industrialists, revolutionaries and pacifists, fundamentalists and reformists, even non-Christians, like Muslims, want to own him.
But no one does.
+ Pilate said: “Behold the man!”
What Pilate said was more meaningful than anyone could ever comprehend. The Lord is too big and too small to be sized up by anyone.
+ “…I find no guilt in him.”
And yet, he was punished as if guilty. Why would God ever allow anyone to suffer from famine, war and disease? I believe it is to remind us of our awful sins. We cause famines, not the sky. We cause war, not the gods. We even cause plagues and superbugs!
By looking at how hideous He looks, we see the hideousness of our own sins. Christ is the living icon of Dorian Gray – and not just of him – but of the whole world.
Oh, how the innocent suffer at the hands of the unjust! Oh, how they are bruised by the sins of others! We condemned others to a miserable existence when we should have been condemned by our just God. As the prophet Isaiah wrote:
“It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Is. 53:4-6).
+ They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
How we live our lack of faith screams to the world not only who we are, but who He is not.
How do you hide an elephant? Throw billions of mosquitos in front of it. Christ is the elephant. We are the mosquitos. He is the gentle giant. We are nasty little creatures.
Again, human history has revealed that we tend to cut down gentle people and things. This is by no means a criticism of God. It is a criticism of ourselves. Christ revealed to the world not only who He is, but who we are as well. Maybe it is spoiled?
The Father should have done to us what He did to His only-begotten Son, Jesus. He should have forced Abraham to endure what He himself endured. He should never have made any promises to Noah: “Never again will I destroy all living creatures” (cf. Gen 9:11).
+ Pilate said, “What I have written, I have written.”
This is all our doing. This is our script. The Lord’s passion was directed and produced by us. But let’s not forget: the Lord always takes care of His part and of course the ending. That’s what makes life, and everyone and everything around it, so interesting and exciting.
We wanted control and we got it. What a mess! What we wanted done got done. What we wanted to happen finally happened. We sang the song all people sing in hell: “I Did It My Way.”
What I find most amazing is how the Lord can work with people like us. It’s truly amazing! And I’m sure he has worked with people like me before. I guess names change but people never really change. We’re still the same we were when the first “caveman” appeared on the scene: frightened, ignorant and arrogant.
It’s okay. The Lord has proven that He can work with just about anyone, including the devil (cf. Job 1:7).
+ “It is finished…”[And] bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
It is finished. But is anything ever really finished in our life other than our life?
What follows next is affirmation, of everything that just took place. St. Paul understood this when he wrote his famous love poem: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (cf. 1Cor 13:7-8).
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (cf. 1Cor. 13:6). Here we have all three things together for the first time: Christ, Love and Truth. God is Love and Truth, the only two things that can unite the world.
This love and truth became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied love and truth not on a cross but on us. When all was said and done, there was nothing left for him to do. It was time to be led to the slaughter and every word and deed be chewed and consumed.
What kept Christ alive was his passion for His Father and for us. Ironically, they were also the ultimate reason for His death.
Life is not at all about surviving for as long as possible, but for living as long as is necessary. Love makes life worth living. God is love and God is what makes our lives worth living.
Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
It is finished. (161)
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