Friday, March 29, 2013

The Betrayal: Ecce Homo!

"...dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
   ~Luke 22:48

To men, the arrest of Jesus is the opening scene of the Passion. In this mystery, we can feel how much the Heart of Jesus is wounded by treason on the part of His own. What audacity to approach the Divine Person of Jesus, under the very eyes of the Apostles, and betray Him with a kiss! What malice and callousness to give the signal for the terrible process of torture to begin! How cruel, to use a kiss as a sign for delivering the Master to a terrible martyrdom and death!

Our Lord is betrayed by one of His own Apostles. He is bound with tight, hurting cords, struck on the face, mocked, insulted, slandered, and beaten. The Good Shepherd, who is also the Lamb of God, allows Himself to be led to the slaughter. The Apostles at first rise up to defend Him but...He does not allow it. Instead, He performs one of His last Miracles – that of healing the soldier’s ear, struck off by a sword, and He admonishes His Apostle, “Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26: 52)

The Church is the Bride of Christ and the faithful reflection of His Spirit. She always behaves in this manner to the world, which persecutes, reviles, and despoils, always with the aim of curtailing her freedom. She has always met its cunning and violence with the same temper and principles. She does not resort to sword and club; her power lies in the Will of God, in suffering and endurance. When she is fettered, she continues to bless and do good to those who injure her. The bonds she bears for Christ are her most beautiful, precious adornment, her sign of ultimate victory. Her cry, when persecuted by men, is ever, “But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Corinthians 2: 15-57)

In His Passion, Jesus showed us all the degrees of charity and humility we should imitate. Humility is a real reparation and compensation to Our Lord for all our cowardice and meanness in His service, and we should be careful not to miss them. Humiliation always atones for our failures in humility – e.g., if we take correction badly, we can humble ourselves by admitting how little virtue we have and acknowledge that fault.

When we are constrained from doing something we wish to do, we can remember Our Lord, put in prison and bound by ropes and chains, knowing that more suffering is to come.

When we are mocked, and our words and actions judged wrongly, especially by those who have no intention of being fair, we can remember Jesus before Caiphas, His mock trial, and His unjust condemnation.

When we are tired and exhausted, we can remember how Jesus was dragged from Annas, and then to Caiphas, and on to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate.

When we fall by sin, we can remember that Christ fell three times, in pain and exhaustion, on the Way of the Cross. Yet even as we take comfort in the Cross, we can never forget that we are also the reason for the Cross.

We do not like to think that, like Judas, we can also truthfully say, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) Unlike Judas, however, we should say what David said to God: “I have sinned exceedingly in doing this: I beseech thee take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done foolishly.” (Paralipomenon 1: 21-8) To save us from our sins, God sent His only Begotten Son, the Most Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace.

“Ecce Homo!” – Behold the Man!  Those are the words which Pilate would later say on this day, hoping that the sight of the battered man would arise compassion and mercy. But it was not to be.
On this Good Friday, let us not only watch one hour with Jesus, not only direct our souls to stay with Him on His way to the Cross, but wholly unite ourselves with Him on the Cross. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)

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