Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Passion of Christ

The Passion of Christ - its relevance in our lives

We are in the season of Lent which is a time to reflect on the sufferings and death of Christ. The Passion is the theological term used for the suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours prior to and including his trial and execution by crucifixion. It basically refers to the sufferings of Our Lord, which culminated in His death upon the cross.

The Passion of Christ is based primarily on biblical accounts of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. From these accounts we know Jesus was falsely accused, convicted and sentenced, not fined or jailed but to death by crucifixion, the severest form of sentence a man can possibly get. Before he was crucified he was severely persecuted, whipped, scourged, dragged up a hill carrying a heavy cross, stripped off his clothes and then nailed to the cross, watched by many, like a hardcore criminal.

What crime did he commit that deserved to be punished in that most inhumane way? It was for proclaiming the TRUTH. Yes, Jesus was tortured, humiliated and killed for telling the truth, the truth which caused so much fear among those in positions of power and comfort. He had to be eliminated at costs so that they can continue to live in power and comfort.

Throughout the journey of his passion, what was astonishing was the way Jesus humbly accepted his punishment which he knew was unfair and unjust. However he accepted all that willingly without fighting back or defending to set him free him. He did not show even the slightest anger or retaliation for being falsely accused and sentenced by the kangaroo court that tried him.

He did not get angry with the Jews who accused him, Pilate who sentenced him and the Roman soldiers who executed him. Instead he had the great magnanimity to forgive all of them who took turns to insult torture and kill him. It was the highest level of humility that no ordinary man can have.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to offer the other cheek when struck on one. He showed us that he really meant what he said by accepting his Passion so willingly. We call ourselves Christians, the followers of Christ, but how Christ-like are we in accepting humiliation and pain for speaking the truth?

What lesson does the Passion of Christ provide us in our own lives? We too in own small ways are often falsely accused, humiliated and punished for standing up for truth, by the authorities in the government, our places of work, families and even in the church. When we are denied our rights we fight back by protests, demonstrations and legal recourse. At time we may even resort to violence and wars to redeem our lost rights.

Many of us behave like the Jews who made false accusations against Jesus and wanted him out. We too make false accusations against those who are against us in order to get them out of our way. We resort to all forms of high handed tactics to succeed against our adversaries. We fail to realize that our actions cause so much pain and suffering to the person involved and his family.

There may be among , us especially those in positions of power who behave like Pilate, refusing to stand up to public pressure for fear of losing power. Due to our greed for power, we succumb to the wrongful demands of the public and wash our hands of the problems of those in need. We fail to realize, as Jesus said, “You will have no power if it is not given from above”.

Like the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus, there are many among us, who carry out the execution of others without feelings or compassion. Even if we know it is wrong, we carry them out anyway for fear of the authorities or for some material reward.

As we make the weekly way of the cross and read the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, let us reflect on the relevance in our own lives, of Jesus’ actions during his agonizing times. Let his Passion be something just not to sympathize or sorrowful about but a real lesson for us as we cruise along own lives. Christ’s humility and forgiveness even towards his adversaries is infinite which is what not just Christianity but humanity is all about.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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