Sunday, April 17, 2011

No good we do in life is ever done in vain (Reflections on the Sunday of the Lord's Passion, Matt. 26:14-27:66))

The stage has been set for the final showdown between Jesus and his detractors. And today, Passion Sunday, the final scene will be played out. This is Holy Week, when the whole Christian world comes together to commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of his mission, and the fruition of the task that the Father had sent him to do.

Everything Jesus had done so far, every word, every action, every miracle, had been building up to the climactic events of this coming week. All the players are now in place, all the elements of the play are now ready, and Jesus enters into his passion after a life of faithful service to his Father and to the people whom he loved.

The final scene in Jesus’ life appears to the whole world as a scene of tragedy, a failure of tremendous proportions. Here was a man who did nothing but good, who spoke only of peace, who cared only that the will of God be done. And he was to end his life in the most cruel and humiliating way—crucifixion, at the hands of the very humanity he was sent to redeem. In the eyes of the world which calculates its investments in terms of the returns it will get, Jesus has to be judged a failure, his mission futile, his words, fallen on deaf ears, his death the final judgment of a failed and wasted life.

Passion Sunday begins Holy Week on this sad note. It sets the tone for the somber days ahead. But there is inserted into this sadness, an unmistakable element of triumph. For we all know that the play doesn’t end with the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross, at the hands of those who rejected him.

We know that death would not be the final word. We know that after the agony of Good Friday and the silence of Holy Saturday, will come the glory and triumph of Easter, when the very life of Jesus will find vindication in the hands of his Father who will give him the greatest reward of all by raising him from the dead and destroying death forever. The life of Jesus, his works and his deeds, did not happen in vain.

Holy Week is an occasion to remind ourselves, not only of the supreme love Christ has shown us by taking our sinfulness upon himself and giving his life for us, but also of the fact that no good we ever do in life is ever done in vain, for our stories do not end with the sorrow of the Cross but with the victory of Easter. Because our Savior died and rose from the dead, life has meaning, purpose, and direction, no matter how forgetful of these things we can sometimes be.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)