Jesus’ silence during his Passion speaks volumes

      Palm Sunday might seem like just a prelude, an anticipation of the end of our Lenten sacrifices, but there is much for us to ponder and reflect upon in today’s readings as we enter Holy Week. Triumph quickly turning to tragedy; betrayal, shame, feelings of being alone, anxiety over what is bound come, possible regrets over the limitations of time. And always, the realization of the cost that comes with unconditional love.

      In the Gospel, read before the opening procession with psalms (Mk 1:1-10), Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph: “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and other spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: ‘Hosanna in the highest!’”

      Jesus is the man for all peoples! Like a rock star or visiting royalty, Jesus is smothered in adoration. Dare we hope, the crowd murmurs, that this truly is our long-awaited messiah, the one who will save us! But soon, things take a turn toward the dark side.  

      Judas, one of Christ’s own inner circle, betrays him for a handful of coins. The rest of his disciples flee at the first sign of trouble. The man who was hoped to be the savior is now the one in need of saving except, there is no one around willing to do so. How alone our Lord must have felt at that point.

      This is our Jesus, who always had a pithy retort for those who tried to trick him or back the Lord into a corner, striking them silent by the truth in his words. Now in the face of false accusations, lies and unthinkable betrayal, it is Jesus who is mute.

      Those who only a short time ago honored him as a conquering hero, now mocked him. How fickle our human nature! What was going through Jesus’ head during this ordeal? Did he lament he didn’t have enough time to get through to the people? Did he regret every having started this crazy journey on earth?

      In the face of their betrayal and the mob mentality, did Jesus rethink, even for a nanosecond, his mission and ministry here on earth? Was he tempted to turn to his fully-God nature and toss about some lightning bolts, call several legions of angels and put an end to this nonsense? That’s what the crowd was waiting for, wasn’t it? Another show of power. Curing the lepers, healing the sick and raising the dead wasn’t enough for them. The message Jesus spoke certainly wasn’t enough for them.

      Underneath their outward admiration of Jesus as he came into the Holy City, were they, in fact, hoping to see this final confrontation, much in the way of not being able to turn our heads while watching a train wreck.

      We shake our heads at the reading of the Passion (Mk 14:1-15:47). With smug hindsight we wonder how those people could have been so dense; so cruel and insensitive. Why couldn’t they see what was right before their eyes?

      I think that, if I had been the Lord, I would have been terribly angry. We might have screamed our rage that day, not only at our accusers, but also those who pretended to be our friends.

      While we like to blame the people of the time, in reality, as a whole, we haven’t progressed much further in our appreciation of who Jesus was, his mission and his sacrifice.

      Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate act of unconditional love. He was God; his words could have convinced Pilate to issue a much different verdict. He was God; he could have stopped the soldiers from pounding those cruel nails into his hands and feet.

      He was God; from the cross he could have cursed all those feckless cowards lurking in the shadows. But he loved us unconditionally and when he did cry out, “Father, forgive them…,” he wasn’t just speaking of his executioners; he was speaking of us all. Sacrifice and forgiveness; that is what lies at the very heart of unconditional love.

      There was a lot Jesus might have done, but, instead, Jesus was silent.

      Listen carefully; his silence speaks volumes to us then and now.

 

      Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .