As we reflect on the first moment of His Passion, Jesus fell to his knees calling on his Father to let this cup pass him by. In retrospect, Jesus had to go back for a moment when he told his disciples this truth; “I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, Where are you going”? (Jn. 16: 4a - 5).
“Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” After withdrawing about a stones throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying; “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Lk. 22: 39 - 40, 41 - 42).
Part one of our walk where it is each one of us who kneels and experiences the bitter feeling of every beat of our heart racing with the thrust of a sword within, which will soon pierce our heart.
“Whom are you looking for,” He addresses the band of soldiers and guards led by Judas. They answered, “Jesus the Nazorean”. He said to them, “I AM”! So he asked them again, “Whom are you looking for?” They said “Jesus the Nazorean”. Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM”. (Jn. 18: 4a - 5, 7 - 8). Have we ever been asked to admit or show by example that we are Christian?
Part two of our walk becomes apparent; The Spirit of Christ who dwells in each of us now stands before our accusers; we are about to be in that place where the pain we realized on our knees is reaching fruition, we are carrying our sins that will be placed on the tree of life.
There are now back and forth trips between Pilate and Herod, questioning Jesus about who he is. We also stand today, being asked, do you believe? How will each of us answer? “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” (Jn. 18: 23). Are any of us brave enough to speak the truth to our adversaries? Remember this is our walk.
“My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” (Jn. 18: 36). Jesus also speaks in the second person perspective. We are in that place and to speak up when confronted, by temptations, what is in our hearts becomes our response.
Pilate sends Jesus to be scourged. Part three of our walk. There are no verses that enhanced this horrible action, but it was no doubt brutal and the Romans used it consistently. Each time we are put down for our faith, be it by intent or other means, it nevertheless is a type of scourging by those who do not approve of our assent to Christianity.
Jesus was nailed to the Cross, each nail penetrating deeply into his flesh. Place yourselves there; do you feel the ignominy of rejection so powerful that the nails also pierced your hearts? This is what its like to reach the mount of Calvary, the end of a journey which is just the beginning for each of us with step four in our walk.
“It is finished” becomes part five that determines our final step of our walk to Calvary. Has this journey been one that simulates Jesus’ walk as we watch him die? The end of this journey ends, but the walk isn’t over. We must pick up our cross and follow Jesus beyond the cross and live for him.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Lent 2021