This week we enter into one of the most sacred weeks of the Christian Calendar: Holy Week. Our journey for this week begins on Palm Sunday with the reading of the Passion account from the gospel of St Matthew. Let us reflect on what Pagola has to say about this narrative and the events leading to Jesus's death:
The Baptist’s execution wasn’t just by chance. According to an idea common among the Jewish people, the destiny awaiting a prophet is incomprehension, rejection, and all too often, death. Early on, Jesus probably counted on the possibility of a violent end.
Jesus wasn’t suicidal or looking to be a martyr. He never wanted suffering – either for himself or for anyone else. He dedicated his life to fight suffering in sickness, injustice, marginalization and hopelessness. He was totally given to “seeking God’s Reign and God’s justice”: that more dignified and happy world that his Father seeks.
If he accepts persecution and martyrdom, it’s out of faithfulness to the project of a God who doesn’t want to see God’s sons and daughters suffer. That’s why Jesus doesn’t run toward death, but also doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t flee in the face of threats, nor does he change or water down his message.
It would have been easy for him to avoid execution. He could have done it by keeping quiet and not insisting on things that could upset people in the temple or in the palace of the Roman prefect. But no. He holds fast to his path. He prefers to be put to death rather than betray his conscience and be unfaithful to his Father God’s project.
He learned to live in a climate of insecurity, conflicts and accusations. Day by day he continued reaffirming his mission and kept announcing his message clearly. He dared to spread it not just in the far-flung villages of Galilee, but in the dangerous context of the temple. Nothing stopped him.
He will die faithful to the God in whom he has always trusted. He will keep welcoming everyone, even sinners and the unwanted. If they end up rejecting him, he will die as an “excluded”, but with his death he will confirm what his whole life has been about: complete confidence in a God who doesn’t reject or exclude anyone from forgiveness.
He will keep seeking God’s Reign and God’s justice, identifying himself with the poorest and the most scorned people. If someday they kill him with the death penalty of the cross, a fate reserved for slaves, he will die like those who are poorest and most scorned, but his death will seal forever his faith in a God who wants to save human beings from all that enslaves them.
Jesus’ followers discover the final Mystery of reality incarnated in his love and extreme self-giving for humanity. In the love of this crucified man God identifies Self with all those who suffer, God cries out against all injustice and forgives executioners of every time. One can believe in this God or not, but it’s not possible to ridicule this God. We Christians trust in this God whom nothing will stop in the effort to save God’s children.
Take some time to listen to the first of the Seven Last Words of James MacMillan - 'Father forgive them' - from the following clip which has all the words of Jesus from the Cross. Click on the following link:
The Seven Last Words from the Cross