As we approach Holy Week, I often contemplate how difficult it might have been for Jesus to carry out God’s will. Ultimately, it is surpassed by realising his death and resurrection were the fulfilment of his mission. Furthermore, what is most compelling to me during Holy Week is that despite what Jesus is going through he is always thinking of others.
In Matthew 26:17-35, Jesus prepares the Passover Meal for his disciples knowing that this will be the last meal he will share with them. There must have been conflicting emotions going through his mind as he sat down to eat knowing one of his disciples, Judas, was going to betray him and another disciple, Peter would deny him three times. Yet he ate, drank and broke bread together with them all. Jesus does not discriminate or judge but still includes them in his final meal. It causes me to reflect on how many times I have excluded others because of a breakdown in my relationships with them.
The story continues, when Jesus was brought before Pilate accused of false charges, he did not defend himself but remained silent. “But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.” Matthew 27:14 Jesus’ eyes were fixed on doing God’s will, not his own personal self-aggrandisement. Thus, it makes me think how often do I lash out when I feel aggrieved instead of maintaining self-control and looking at the bigger picture.
Furthermore, Jesus while nailed to the cross and struggling with pain looks to his followers in the distance. Matthew 27:55 This made me realise how frequently our family and friends are there for me in the most challenging times which I believe extols upon me to show my appreciation and recognise their kindness.
Holy Week concludes with Jesus’ resurrection, John 20:1-31. The fulfilment of the scriptures occurs when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. John: 20:15. Jesus’ selfless act of dying on the cross culminates in his glorious resurrection which enables everyone to enter God’s Kingdom and experience eternal life. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30
This inspires me to think how many things am I willing to sacrifice or let go to bring about change to a difficult situation because it is only then that I can see beyond the issue and glimpse with hope into the future. This can only be achieved if I think of others before myself just like Jesus did in his death and resurrection.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. In Luke 6:35 Jesus asks us to extend generosity to people without expecting anything in return. So, my first question is what is our motive when we reach out to others?
Firstly, I would like to think my intention is because I see a need and feel I can enhance that person’s life by providing assistance in some way unconditionally. I believe a positive response is all we require from that person as affirmation. Pope Francis expresses it best, “Believe in the existence of the most noble and beautiful truths” and trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is ushering everything toward the good, toward “Christ’s embrace.”
Secondly, is to be appreciative of what people do for you. How many times do we expect people to carry out certain tasks yet we judge their performance? It is something I need to monitor in my own life as I subconsciously evaluate anything that occurs in my own life from the food, I eat to an episode I watch television. Could I do better probably not, so what gives me the right to appraise others? Pope Francis sums it up perfectly, Enemy No. 1 is not out there somewhere, but inside oneself. “Don’t make room for bitter or dark thoughts.”
In Conclusion I once again draw on Pope Francis’ wisdom, “Hope instead means living in expectation of the concrete encounter with Jesus. And wisdom consists in being able to rejoice in the “little encounters of the life with Jesus.” In other words when we do meet others expectations, we to are having an encounter with Jesus. Surely, that is what gives us hope and erases all expectations.
In Matthew 4:1-11 the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness the devil tries to tempt Jesus three times. Jesus rebukes him I believe because of his awareness in fulfilling his own mission and doing the will of his Father. In other words, he had his eyes on the prize.
Firstly, the devil preys on his Jesus’ hunger, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
To which Jesus replies, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4)
Jesus was aware that the devil was trying to tempt him to satisfy his wants rather than his needs. Thus, refusing to what was going to give him pleasure and preferring to pursue carrying out his Father’s will. I believe I should be content if I have what I need instead of seeking the pleasures in life.
Secondly, the devil continues his temptation of Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of the Temple and asking him to throw himself down saying God’s angels will save him.
Jesus aware of the devil’s deception remarks ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4:7) Hence, the devil is asking Jesus to test God’s power however I believe we do not test God’s power but request it to bring positive consequences. Furthermore, this may empower others to create opportunities for others to be successful.
Finally, the devil attempts again to deceive Jesus by taking him to a high mountain and offering him all the Kingdoms of the World. But Jesus expresses his annoyance with, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Matthew 4:10) I would argue Jesus didn’t need the prestige of being materially wealthy his influence on others came through his words and actions which have been inspiring people all across the world for 2020 years. Thus, I need to be aware of Jesus’ influence by living according to his Gospel values rather than the influencers that abound across the globe in the mass media.