Archive for March 29, 2013


Whom do we identify ourselves with in the passion of Christ?

Do we identify ourselves with the disciples? Who follow Christ faithfully? Who could not stay awake for Christ? Who abandoned their faith when the situation got uncomfortable? Who let fear overcome them?

Do we identify ourselves with Judas? Betrayed Him for money? Greed? Way of living? With the idea of being superior in intellect? Unrepentant?

Do we identify ourselves with Peter? Bold in the faith yet brash? With a leader’s mentality that I know it all? Loyal in the heart but not yet fully grounded in the faith and so was fearful and fell from faith? Repentant in the end, courageous to accept the faults and rebuild, and fortify his faith through the help of the Holy Spirit?

Do we identify ourselves with Pilate? A leader of men yet not in Christ? To go against what is true and right in order to keep the peace? Who will not stand up for the innocent or for  those who are bullied and those who cannot fend for themselves?

Do we identify ourselves with the high priests? Self righteous? Seeking personal glorification? Having a faith like horses wearing blinds? Quick to judge and condemn others? Using all means to justify their actions? Seeking not God’s counsel?  Doing not His Will?

Do we identify ourselves with the crowd? Do we have a mob mentality? Taking not the time or making not the effort to learn and grow in faith? To allow our emotions to rule us? To live our lives with God absent?

Do we identify ourselves with John? Who truly loved Jesus and knew what it was to be loved by Him? Initially seeking status and fame? Allowed fear to overcome His love? But gathered courage through his love for Christ and stood by His mother and His side in the end?

Do we identify ourselves with the repentant thief? Who abandoned all pride and carried the shame of the sinful life he led and turned to Christ in the end? Fully willing to accept condemnation for his sins? Entrusting himself to the Lord his God?

Do we hope to identify ourselves with Jesus? To drink the cup he drank? To carry His cross? To serve, not to served? To be the light for others living in darkness?

Reflection on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ +

The agony in the garden was really the agony in His mind. He suffered the passion in His mind before He suffered it in His body—to the point of actually affecting the latter by sweating blood. But from then on, it was His bodily suffering that affected His mental suffering.

At the base of all His suffering was the one thing that human beings dread the most: rejection. He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and abandoned by all the rest of His Apostles; those He had hand picked as His closest intimates. He was most rejected by those who put Him to death. They not only wanted Him dead, they wanted Him to suffer. They not only considered Him to be worth nothing, they considered Him to be worth minus nothing! This significance was not lost on Him. He felt fully the rejection as each physical agony reminded Him.

So we thank Him for I us on our human journey and actually choosing to experience what we fear the most.

We thank Him for enduring the arrest and the cruelty of the guards and the Sanhedrin. We thank Him for enduring the cruelty of Pilate who allowed Him to be executed rather than risk his own political ruin—and for the cruelty of Herod who wanted to be entertained by having Him work a miracle. We thank Him for all the time He spent satisfying their preoccupation with themselves, just delaying His ultimate death. We thank Him for the anxiety of that night in a cell.

The next morning He was brutally scourged with such intensity and violence that He became as an aged man in a matter of minutes. His multiple wounds bloodied His entire body. The loss of so much blood not only severely weakened Him; it also caused a severe, throbbing headache that remained with Him for the duration.

We thank Him for this and for the mockery He received when they put a purple cloth on His shoulders and pushed a crown of thorns down into His head which intensified His headache. They blindfolded Him and slapped Him, insisting that He ‘prophesy’ who had hit Him. They spat on Him and beat Him. But it was they who were blind. He knew who they were. This is what we do when we sin. We blot him out of our consciousness as if He can’t see us. But it is we who choose to not see.

He stood at the praetorium in utter disgrace according to the attitude of the crowd—while in reality, He stood in utter glory: almighty God, being present to every person who has ever suffered rejection, joining them in their
moment of pain. It was there that He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. As a further humiliation, He was forced to carry His instrument of execution. He revealed to St. Bernard that carrying the cross was His most painful agony. He was so weak, He could hardly walk. So the weight of the cross on His shoulder was unbearable. It most likely dislocated His shoulder. It is not surprising that He fell down on the stone streets that were filthy with animal dung—with the cross on top of Him. And He got up each time.

It was only with the help of Simon of Cyrene that He made it to the top of Calvary. There they drove the nails into the carpal tunnels of His hands, causing pain throughout His upper body. The nail in His feet registered great pain through all the sensitive nerves there. When the cross was righted, His up-stretched arms squeezed His lungs and He began to pant for lack of oxygen. So He had to push down on His crucified feet to push His body up in order to fill His lungs with air. This took great effort because He was so weak. Yet He managed to maintain such effort for three hours of agony which increased gradually as He became weaker moment by moment.

By the end of the third hour, His agony was at its peak and His self-gift was exquisite. He had come to the point where His strength simply gave out and He suffocated. In this eternal moment as He died, He gave us His life. Transcending time, this moment of divine love is present to us in the tabernacles of the world.

Thank you, Lord. We adore you O Christ and we praise you. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world!

If this still matters to you, then it must matter more than anyone and anything. One day you will see Him face to face. If you go through with this marriage, what will you tell Him? If you read this reflection every day, He will give you the strength to be faithful to Him. You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.