The most painful kind of affront is that which comes not from our enemies but from our friends.
“It is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship.” (Psalm 55:12-14)
When Judas betrayed our Lord, he did it for 30 pieces of silver. Like our beso beso, which is a sign of intimate friendship/kinship, Judas turned-over the Son of God to the soldiers with a kiss.
Betrayal in our lives comes in different forms: gossiping, back-biting and conniving. We experience this pain done to us both from friends and family. It is so painful, divisive and traumatizing that sometimes, we don’t know what to say.
Jesus had nothing to say. Jesus was silent. Yes, He asked the soldiers if they had come for a thief because of their swords and clubs but those were His only words. The Gospel accounts do not describe Jesus fighting or shouting back.
From His arrest in the Garden of Olives, the disciples had left and abandoned Him. How many times have we felt this from people we thought and believed were our friends and family? In those moments when we needed them most, we were left to our own devices to quench our doubts and sufferings.
Notice how our generation has forgotten the great importance of solidarity and communal respect. We are taught by today’s culture to satisfy one’s happiness, to put one’s needs first. “If you aren’t happy, how can you help others?” We are the generation of “Disney” – pursue your own dreams no matter what. At first, it sounds right. But then ask yourselves: how about our families? How about our colleagues? How about our country?
“I want to wear this because this is my true self” – you strut a scandalous dress, a most peculiar look, a blue-dyed hair, a tattoo that envelopes your entire arm.
“I don’t care what others think of me.”
What does this indicate? We live for ourselves alone. At the end of the day, perhaps, even your parents, spouse, children or even God have no say in your life.
I will be honest and frank, and maybe even, hasty.
I have noticed these past few years how people would post or share how their relatives or loved ones have passed-on via Facebook or Twitter. And what do people do? They simply post a comment that goes “Condolences…” or even, horror of horrors, “life” it! I haven’t heard of people going to wakes lately, of bringing flowers, food or even Mass cards. I’ve even heard of peers saying things like, “I don’t like going to wakes because I’m scared” or “I think it’s bad luck to visit the dead”.
I have a classmate from high school who died in a car accident. I have never heard of any of my other classmates visit his grave. Because of the violence and death we are bombarded with in video games, media and social sites, we have been numbed and turned indifferent.
Yes, we are living amidst the vainest, most selfish and convoluted persons we can meet.
But like Jesus, the afflicted and scorned remain silent. Nobody complains, nobody says “Why didn’t my friends visit my parent’s/grandparent’s wake?” It is crass to do so, anyway.
And when Jesus was scourged on the pillar and thereafter, ordered to carry His cross to Golgotha, the people were shouting, screaming and mocking Him. They were actually called “an angry mob” in Scripture.
Pope Francis gave a very moving sermon last Palm Sunday and his question was simple, “Who were you in the Passion of Christ?”
Are you like the mocking crowds? Or the spectators who did nothing and simply looked-on. Who are you amidst the jeering?
Jesus remained silent throughout the carrying of the Cross. I admit, when the work at office becomes tough, I complain loudly. I even post it on Facebook. I rant a lot.
But when does Jesus open His mouth to speak?
A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time, people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” – St. Luke 23: 27-31
Finally, when He was nailed on the Cross, only then did He raise His voice but by then, it was only the voice of resignation:
“’Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last.” – St. Luke 23: 44-46
Every time those words are mentioned in the Gospel during a Liturgy, the congregation is asked to kneel for a few moments of quiet reflection. It is a sign of profound sorrow.
Today, as we approach the hour of His dolorous way of the cross and death on the Cross, we too remain silent and reflect intensely on the question: Who am I in the narrative of the way of the Cross?
Do I help the Lord as He carries His cross? Am I like the good thief, crucified too, and offering myself to His salvation? Or am I like the crowds and spectators – shouting, jeering and apathetic to the pains of the Son of Man?
As the song goes, “Where were you when they crucified my Lord?”
Jesus was indeed a man of few words, almost silent, during the hours of his suffering and crucifixion. It is the sign of His perfect resignation to the Father. It is the perfect response of love.