This Reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Apr. 13, 2014:
“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them…I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” Isaiah here describes Jesus. At times, we can become weary in our souls; but Jesus gives us all a word to “rouse” us–to awaken us from our sins. We can respond to this rousing in a number of ways: as the Disciples did, as the Romans did, and as the Pharisees did.
Jesus speaks the truth; the truth both about ourselves and about God. He warns us of our sins–of how we turn away from God–and what it will do to us over the course of eternity. How do we choose to accept His warnings? As His disciples did? Surely, we would like to think so; but if we really did accept it so openly, would we do half of the things that we do? Are so many of us not actually more like the Romans, most of whom viewed it indifferently? So often, we hear the Word of God, and we just glaze right through it, wrapped up in our own thoughts. So often, we hear God speaking through our conscience and we ignore Him; so often, we have heard His Commandments, and we ignore them. If we really want to be the disciples we envision ourselves to be, we ought to start practicing more of what we profess to be. We do not want to become hypocrites like the Pharisees.
Speaking of the Pharisees–how did they respond to Christ’s teachings? They went out of their way–breaking the laws they supposedly upheld in the process–to eradicate both Jesus and the truths which He proclaimed. For example, at the end of today’s Gospel reading, they had a guard placed around Jesus’ tomb. Now remember why Mary Magdalene and the other women (I’ve never been sure exactly who else) waited until Sunday to anoint Jesus: they did not wish to disobey the law, which said that they were supposed to rest on the Sabbath. They could not even do work such as anointing a body. The Pharisees, however, went so far as to seal the tomb and place a guard around it on the Sabbath (“the [day] following the day of preparation”). They so feared what was being spoken against them, that they would break their supposed Lord’s laws in order to try and save their worldly dignity. Later on in Matthew–past today’s Gospel reading–they pay the ones who were guarding the tomb to lie about Jesus’ disciples having stolen the body–they broke yet another Commandment by lying (or at least, by bribing someone else to lie). How far will we go to avoid hearing that we are wrong? How much “Pharisee” do each of us have inside ourselves?
The second part of the first reading that I mentioned above also pertains to Jesus. He gave His back to those who had scourged Him, He offered no resistance to those who had beat and tortured Him. He allowed all of this to come to pass (“Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?”), so that God’s will might be done; so that we might be saved.
In the Old Testament, the Jews would offer reparation sacrifices to God in atonement for their sins. Jesus’ Suffering and Death comprised the ultimate “reparation sacrifice.” He offered Himself–perfect, sinless Son of God–for the sins of all mankind, an offering so powerful that it would tear the veil between God and man, thereby allowing man into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The humility and the humiliation our Lord accepted are meant to save each and every one of us, individually. If we can repent of our sins, and strive to sin no more, He will let us into His Kingdom. Judas, as we can see in the Passion narrative, failed to accept this gift of mercy; for remember, Jesus referred to Judas as “friend” when the Apostle came to betray Him. If Judas had repented (like Peter did after denying Jesus), Jesus would have forgiven him. But, instead, Judas despaired. He figured he had no chance of being saved, so he killed himself in his misery. He thought himself so hopeless that even such a grave sin as suicide could not make his position any worse. But he was wrong.
By our sins, we put Jesus upon that Cross. He was crucified as our reparation offering. We should never, ever forget that; yet so often, we do forget it. We go our own ways, rather than following our shepherd–doing what we want instead of what He wants. Is that what He suffered and died for? For us to ignore His love, and go on sinning as we please? His love for us is so great, that His will is for our good, despite the cost to Him. We must keep this in the forefronts of our minds at all times. He has given us the free will to follow Him or forsake Him. “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,” we must always walk His path before our own.
“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”–Chaplet of Divine Mercy
by Cameron Daly