A lesson in life to stand up for truth
Tomorrow we will be observing Good Friday, the day Christ died on the Cross. It is a day we will reflect on the sufferings and death of Christ, which is generally called the Passion 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.
To many the Passion of Christ is just a lesson in history where we sympathize with Christ for the sufferings he went through before he died. We find it hard to believe how the people can be so cruel to inflict the most severe form of pain on a man who we know was innocent. For Christians the Passion should be more than a lesson in history but a lesson in life to stand up for truth and justice.
The Passion 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 by fine or imprisonment, but to death by crucifixion, the severest form of sentence a man can possibly get.
As if that was not enough, before he was crucified he was humiliated, severely persecuted, whipped, scourged, crowned with thorns, 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 Jesus commit that deserved to be punished in that most inhumane way? It was for proclaiming the TRUTH. Yes, Jesus was tortured, humiliated and killed not for lying, corruption, rape or murder but for telling the truth, the truth which caused so much fear among those in positions of power and comfort. He was a threat to their social security and had to be eliminated at all costs.
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 himself. He did not show even the slightest anger or retaliation for being victimized, 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. This was in keeping with what was written “He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn't open his mouth”.( Isaiah 53:7).
Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to offer the other cheek when struck on one. He had demonstrated 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? How Christ-like are we when we are accused of offences we did not commit? Will we be humble enough not to strike back and forgive those who accuse us?
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 fiercely, sometimes with vengeance. We organize protests, demonstrations, hurl verbal abuses and resort to legal recourse. 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 to get rid of him. 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. We fail to realize that our efforts cause so much pain and suffering to the person involved and his family.
There may be others among us, especially those in positions of power, who behave like Pilate, refusing to stand up to public pressure for fear of losing our 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.
Like the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus, there are many among us, who carry out the execution of others without empathy or compassion. Even if we know it is wrong, we carry them out anyway for fear of the authorities or some material rewards.
As we make the final Way of the Cross and read the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, let us reflect on its relevance in our own lives, of Jesus’ actions during his agonizing times. Let his Passion not be just a lesson in history to commemorate Christ’s suffering at the hands of his own people. His Passion is not something to sympathize or be sorrowful about but a real lesson for us as we encounter the many challenges in our lives. Christ’s humility and forgiveness even towards his adversaries is infinite which is what not just Christianity but humanity is all about.