- Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”Lk22:39-48). Taken from a part of today’s gospel for Passion Sunday.
- Today’s gospel is so long that going through it attentively is already a homily on its own. The story of the passion and death of Jesus that we are presented with in today’s gospel puts four major actors in the limelight: the manipulators, the manipulated, the goodly consistent and Jesus.
The manipulators and the manipulated: the story of Jesus developed progressively in the gospel. He was born a nobody, in an animal pen. He grew up as a son of a carpenter and blossomed as messenger of God. His humble beginning and his later renown made him a threat to the powerful people who shaped the opinion of the common people. These were the Priests, the Scribes and the Pharisees. These made up their mind to destroy Jesus in order to remain the unquestionable leaders of the masses. But they would not like to come out openly as killers since they were supposed to appear holy. They needed some useful idiots to do the job.
3.The first idiot was called Judas Iscariot. Knowing his love for money they cornered him with an offer in exchange of which he will lead them to capture Jesus. They used and dumped him. When he realized that he has been manipulated he committed suicide. That meant nothing to them. The second idiot was called Pilate. They knew that they can not kill Jesus without facing the charge of murder so they cornered a man who has the right to condemn without being guilty. The caught in on his desire to remain in Caesar’s friendship and used him to condemn Jesus to death, and used his soldiers to carry out the dastard deed while they kept aloof. The poor Pilate is still talked of today as an unjust coward.
The third useful set of idiots were the people. The manipulators knew that if the people are not carried along they may revolt against them. They fixed the project at a time of Passover when people will willingly listen to religious leaders and caught in on the people’s desire for political freedom. They asked them to ask for the liberation a political insurrectionist, Barabbas and to request for the crucifixion of Jesus who has nothing to offer them politically. All these people were used in a game of power for the profit of the elites without their being conscious of the game.
- The goodly consistent: this group is a made up of those who remain so firm in their conviction to stand for good: Simon of Cyrene, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, the women followers of Jesus, John the beloved apostle and Mary, mother of Jesus. These people refused to be manipulated. They were faithful to the end. They stood with Jesus even when they knew that it was risky to do so.
Finally we have the arrowhead of the passion, Jesus himself. A careful reading of the passion reveals how Jesus never for once departed from being good and gentle. To the disciples who were sleeping instead of praying with him he offered encouraging words saying ‘pray that you do not fall into temptation.’ To Judas he uttered no harsh word. To those who came to arrest him he offered no resistance. To the insults of the religious leaders he remained respectful. Before Pilate and Herod he exhibited the demeanor of a royalty, not condescending or panicky. To the criminal who reviled him he kept silent. To the good thief he promised paradise. And for his executioners he prayed to God to grant them pardon.
The message of today’s celebration is simple: do not allow anybody to manipulate you. Most of those in leadership position are manipulators. Many people who may appear simple are also manipulators. They all have one thing in common: they capitalize on your need to further their own interests. Such needs like marriage, job, money etc are areas where they easily catch in. Resist their antics. Our politicians are second to none in this game. Do not be their victim. They are already strategizing for 2023. Stand on your feet. Again, Jesus has left us a model to imitate. He remained good to the end. Let your utmost aspiration be becoming like Jesus especially in moments of trials. ©Vita, 10/04/22