Are we willing to follow Jesus in standing up for truth and justice?
This Sunday we will be celebrating Palm Sunday which will mark the beginning of the Holy Week in our Church calendar. As we set foot into this auspicious week, it may be the right time for us to reflect on and adopt the virtues that Jesus demonstrated during his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the washing of the feet and the subsequent Passion and death on the cross.
The triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday indicates the willingness of Jesus to stand up for the truth despite knowing well that it is going to cost Him his life. Almost every day we too are faced with situations where we have to stand up in defense of truth. It will be extremely difficult for us do so especially if the person whom we have to stand up against is our superior or those in positions of power and influence.
How do we measure up to Jesus when we are asked to stand up for truth such times in our own lives? Do we take the easy way out and follow the masses or stand up to be counted knowing that by doing so we may be penalized? In times of trouble do we abandon those under our care for fear of reprisal? Do we betray those who have been loyal to us in times of need for some material gains?
The washing of the feet of his apostles on Holy Thursday was an act of extreme humility that Jesus wants us to emulate in our own lives. “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you must wash each other's feet”(John13:14). In His Passion and death he demonstrated his forgiveness towards even those who insulted and persecuted him in the cruelest form. Instead of retaliating with anger and vengeance he reacted with love and forgiveness saying, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).
Most of us will not be able to do what he did but that is what we must try to do to be worthy to be called his followers. At least we can reflect on ourselves to see how we compare to Jesus. Do we harbor hatred and anger against those who have hurt us? Are we willing to forgive those who have hurt us? Are we willing to go out of the way to seek forgiveness from those we have hurt? We may be willing to take the easy way out to pray for them and do some penance as a form of seeking forgiveness but more important is to personally approach them to admit our mistakes. Are we prepared to that?
On Good Friday we commemorate the Passion of Christ that led to his crucifixion. Passion should be more than a lesson in history but a lesson in life for us to stand up for truth and justice. Jesus accepted all the persecution and humiliation of his Passion willingly without anger and hatred for those who inflicted pain and insult on him.
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.
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.
The Holy Week culminates in the resurrection of Jesus, that symbolizes his victory over death and sin. His resurrection gives us hope that if we continue to do His will and willing to bear the consequences of doing right at all times too will one day come out victorious over our own sins and death.