Look up to Jesus our model

Sunday Reflections: You Have Been Called and Empowered to Testify
Rev Dr. Vitalis Anaehobi

Sunday Reflections

Look up to Jesus our model

1. The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (Mt26:14-27:66)

The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none,

though many false witnesses came forward.

Finally two came forward who stated,

“This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.’”

The high priest rose and addressed him,

“Have you no answer?

What are these men testifying against you?”

But Jesus was silent.

Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’

and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses?

You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?”

They said in reply, “He deserves to die!”….

2. Today’s gospel is so long that going through it attentively is already a homily on its own. The story of the passion and death of Jesus that we are presented with in today’s gospel puts four major actors in the limelight: the manipulators, the manipulated, the goodly consistent and Jesus. We take them one after the other.

3. The manipulators and the manipulated: the story of Jesus developed progressively in the gospel. He was born a nobody, in an animal pen. He grew up as a son of a carpenter and blossomed as messenger of God. His humble beginning and his later renown made him a threat to the powerful people who shaped the opinion of the common people. These were the Priests, the Scribes and the Pharisees. These made up their mind to destroy Jesus in order to remain the unquestionable references for the masses. But they would not like to come out openly as killers since they were supposed to appear holy. They needed some useful idiots to do the job.

3.The first idiot was called Judas Iscariot. Knowing his love for money they cornered him with an offer in exchange of which he will lead them to capture Jesus. They wanted precision. They used and dumped him. When he realized that he has been manipulated he committed suicide. That meant nothing to them. The second idiot was called Pilate. They knew that they cannot kill Jesus without facing the charge of murder so they cornered a man who has the right to condemn and kill without being held accountable. They caught in on his desire to remain in Caesar’s friendship and used him to condemn Jesus to death, and used his soldiers to carry out the dastard deed while they kept aloof as innocent defenders of God. The poor Pilate is still talked of today as an unjust coward.

The third useful set of idiots were the people. The manipulators knew that if the people are not carried along they may revolt against them. They fixed the project at a time of Passover when people will willingly listen to religious leaders and caught in on the people’s desire for political freedom. They asked them to ask for the liberation of a political insurrectionist, Barabbas and to request for the crucifixion of Jesus who has nothing to offer them politically. All these people were used in a game of power for the profit of the elites without their being conscious of the game. The same thing continues today. People are used and dumped.

4. The goodly consistent: this group is a made up of those who remain so firm in their conviction to stand for good: Simon of Cyrene, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, the women followers of Jesus. These people refused to be manipulated. They were faithful to the end. They stood with Jesus even when they knew that it was risky to do so.

5. Finally we have the arrowhead of the passion, Jesus himself. A careful reading of the passion reveals how Jesus never for once departed from being good and gentle. To the disciples who were sleeping instead of praying with him he offered encouraging words saying ‘pray that you do not fall into temptation.’ To Judas he uttered no harsh word. To those who came to arrest him he offered no resistance. To the insults of the religious leaders he remained respectful. Before Pilate he exhibited the demeanor of a royalty, not condescending or panicky. To the soldiers who reviled him he kept silent. He did all these perfectly because he knows that through his death the salvation of the world will be assured. With his death we are forever saved.

6. The message of today’s celebration is simple: do not allow anybody to manipulate you. Many people in leadership position are manipulators. Many people who may appear simple are also manipulators. They all have one thing in common: they capitalize on your need to further their own interests. Such needs like marriage, job, money etc are areas where they easily catch in. Resist their antics. Stand on your feet. Again, Jesus has left you an example to follow. He remained good to the end. Let your utmost aspiration be the imitation of Jesus especially in moments of trials. ©Vita, 02/04/23


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