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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday – Year C

Theme: The Painful Betrayal of a Friend

In the Shakespearean classic Julius Ceasar, William Shakespeare narrates the tragic story of Julius Caesar who was betrayed by his best friend, Marcus Junius Brutus. Ceasar was warned by his wife not to go out on the Ides of March but knowing the evil they had planned against him, Brutus encouraged him to go out. Brutus had already conspired with some senators to attack his friend Caesar who they considered as a tyrant. When Caesar noticed the involvement of Brutus in the attack, he knew he had been betrayed by a friend. Although Ceasar was stabbed several times, the stab by Brutus was so deep that he immediately gave up and died with the words “Et tu Brute” (even you Brutus) on his lips.

Today’s narrative of the passion and death of Christ presents some similarities between the murder of Caesar and that of Christ. Both were murdered by a group of conspirators and their deaths were facilitated by the betrayal of their closest friends who ate and dinned with them. Judas played a very significant role in the history of human salvation, because his treachery facilitated Christ’s passion and death which won salvation for us. Let us reflect on his treachery with a view not to condemn him the more but to find traces of him in our lives.

Unlike Brutus who wanted Caesar killed, Judas never wanted Jesus killed. Instead, he was interested in the money he would get if he assisted the Chief priests to arrest Jesus. Probably, seeing Jesus escape several times from the wrath of the Pharisees, he thought Jesus would have miraculously saved himself from death. The whole drama became clear to him only when Jesus was condemned to death. For the love of this same money, today, many innocent people are harassed and killed, the truth is hidden, expired and substandard goods are sold in the market, human life is endangered and our friendship with God is compromised. Each time we engage in things like these, we betray Christ just as Judas did.

As much as the events of this great week celebrate God’s omnipotence in history, the Church also challenges us to make the mysteries of Christ’s passion our own. We are called to live above hypocrisy, greed and selfishness and then give our lives to the gospel. That is why the first reading presents us with the image of the suffering servant who learnt to obey through suffering and pain. He was glorified at the end because he maintained his friendship with God by being attentive and obedient to the voice of God.

Today, as disciples and friends of God, how faithful have we been to our primary commitments? In our family lives, how faithful have we been to the preservation of family life and morality? In the society, how faithful have we been in preserving the dignity and integrity of man? Do we betray God when we handle positions of trust and authority? We may be too quick to blame Judas who betrayed Jesus, Peter who denied him three times and the disciples who fled. But we may not be better than them. Betrayal is a kind of conspiracy against a person. It is an unimaginable and unexpected blow from a friend. Each time we use our authority to approve and legalize evil and immoral behaviour then, we betray God who is the giver of all authority. Each time we keep silent in the face of evil, especially when harm is intended against another person, then we are denying Christ openly. Each time we avoid our duties towards God and man then we are like the disciples who ran away. Some confide in us yet we stab them at their back with the information they have confidentially revealed to us.

Beloved friends, today is an opportunity to ask God for mercy for the many times we have betrayed Him and our neighbours. Rather than lose hope of forgiveness like Judas, let us be repentant like Peter and ask for mercy. For those who have been betrayed by friends and close associates, look unto Jesus and take courage. This is not the end of the world, we pray that with Christ, you may rise at Easter and be restored to your former glory. Do not revenge, continue to love and remain obedient to the voice of God. Like St. Paul advised  us in the second reading, let us imitate Christ who was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. It is more profitable to obey for every act of obedience has a heavenly reward. Therefore, instead of betraying our friendship with Jesus, let us obey him in all things that we may solidify our friendship with him. God loves you.

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