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. Mar 2019 .
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Doctrines & Morals

All the way





The mission of Jesus to salvage humanity and to redeem the world was not achieved by a simple offering of a goat or ram. It was a mission that was accomplished at the price of his own life. When he came into the world he took the form of a servant, he took on humility and a life of service. Even his death was to bring creation home to its creator from the wilderness of sin. This death, the most shameful and cruel of its time, took him on a journey to Calvary, where he finally surrendered his life into the hands of the Father, what a wonderful exchange of the sinless for the salvation of sinners.


First Reading (Isaiah 50:4-7)


Isaiah in this song of the suffering servant, focuses on the role of this mysterious personage who is given the gifts of both listening to hear God’s word and a well trained tongue to speak that word to others. Through this servant, God will work the redemption of his people. The servant is the ideal disciple. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know … Morning by morning he wakens, wakens my ear to hear… The Lord God has opened my ear and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward, I gave my back to those who struck me and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard…” The word is fresh each day as God opens his ears to listen. This servant must listen daily to what God wants. As the servant of God, he meets with opposition but he will not be confounded. He does not resist nor run away from his sufferings and trials but accepts it as an integral part of his mission—he is beaten; his ear is plucked; he is spat on, yet he remains committed to his call. The part of this disciple leads us to reflect deeply on the sufferings of Jesus. It also provides a model of perseverance for all who wish to follow the path of Jesus — they must carry their crosses daily and follow him.


Second Reading (Philippians 2:6-11)


In this ancient hymn in praise of Christ (Christological hymn) incorporated by Paul into his letter, We are led to see how Jesus fully took on the personage of the servant described in the first reading of today. The hymn is a little complex as it deals with the status of Christ before he took flesh, during the time he took flesh and after his death. The first part talks of Jesus who was in the form of God. But to save humanity, he had to in humility give up this status “by emptying himself and taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.” In the second part, Jesus took flesh and became man,“And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—death on a cross.” Paul exhorts his listeners to learn from Christ in this hymn which reveals God as one who serves in total humility. Throughout his life, Jesus dedicated himself in humility to the service of others. This service will lead to his death on the cross. The third part of the passage describes the status of Jesus after his death. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name…” Paul reveals that it was precisely because of his humility, service and faithfulness to the mission given to him that he has been raised above all and to the extent that all must bow before him to the glory of God the Father.


Passion Narrative (Mark 14:1-15:47)


The account in Mark presents the events of the final days of Jesus. It presents Jesus as one who accepts his suffering as an integral part of his mission. He was willing to go through it all as the plan of the Father for him. Mark made a vivid presentation of the characters beginning with Jesus himself, the woman with the alabaster jar of oil; Peter; Judas; Pilate; the high priest; the chief priests and the scribes. Then also the events: — the preparation of the Passover and the Supper; the Prayer, agony and the arrest in Gethsemane; the role of Judas in the arrest of Jesus; the denial by Peter; the trial before Pilate, and the crucifixion and death on the cross—most of these happened though predicted already by Jesus. Mark presents all of these as fulfilling the mission of the messiah, as already prophesied in the scriptures.


It is of great importance to realise that the Apostles of Jesus were themselves routed by the events, though they had followed Jesus for a while. One could imagine what was on Judas’ mind, as he betrayed the master. He must have thought he could make some brisk money from the elders and that Jesus would escape, as he had done on other occasions, not realising that the hour had come. If anyone thinks that the others were better, Peter James and John were sleeping during the agony. All the other disciples ran for cover at the arrest of Jesus and even by the cross, only the beloved disciple was present. Peter of all people, denied the master three times. Even the action of Judas was indicated as a fulfilment of Scripture by Mark.(14:19)


One intriguing moment for me in the whole story is the demand for the release of Barabbas a known murderer during the insurrection, in place of a just and peaceful man. They renounced peace and glorified violence. Think about the wickedness of the guards who received him with blows, what of those who mocked him while hanging on the cross. What of the crowd that sang hosanna on his entry into Jerusalem, only to shout crucify him a few days later. Which of the characters in this narrative represent you or do you imitate in real life?


While Jesus suffered these disappointments from his followers, he committed himself to the Father, the only one who could save him. He prayed fervently at Gethsemane and his sweat became as thick as blood, He prayed to the Abba, while on the cross. Even when it seemed all was lost, he cried out even more to the heavens “My God , my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Ps. 22)


Soon after he had breathed his last on the cross, the Centurion said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” What an acknowledgement? Joseph of Arimathea will lead the team to give the Lord a proper burial, before the Sabbath rest sets in. The women of courage stood by him to the end, especially Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Joses and Salome, they took note of where he was laid. The Apostles were no where to be found. 


The Lord went all the way for our sake, how far are we willing to go in the service of God, his Church and His people. It is not just enough to file out today and sing Hosanna filio David with decorative palms or to march out majestically on Good Friday to kiss the Cross. We must go all the way to Calvary. Let us die to the world and live for Christ. 

Let us Pray: O Lord, give us the courage to stand by you in our society today and to give our lives in the service of the truth. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.