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The Way of the Cross
By Nida Alumbro Rofe
It is a good thing to get out into the fresh air, to walk in about our neighborhood and display publicly, even if in a small enough way, and once a year at that, our belief in, and love for, Christ our Redeemer.
Our little dried palm leaves, or sprigs of fresh green stuff, remind us of the fleeting nature of the welcome that Jesus got on that first Palm Sunday, so many years ago in the hot Palestine sun. Just so, the enthusiasm of the crown on Palm Sunday as they surrounded and cheered the Lord, seated meekly on a donkey, the sign of peace not war, changed and faded. On Good Friday he was crucified, and many of the same people were anthem crowds that mocked and insulted him.
So many similar rising, always brutally crushed, had happened in the past. Was it not simple political sense that one man should die for one people? Public opinion was turned round by propaganda, by smears, by judicious threats and bribes also, no doubt. But would that have been enough? No, there must have been a genuine popular revulsion to make such violent alteration in so short a time. What happened?
Jesus was revealed in his true colors. The crowds that surrounded him on his entry were calling out “Hail to the King”. They saw the entry of Christ as the beginning of a new reign, the restored Kingdom of David; the hated oppressors would be thrown out of supernatural powers.
When Jesus made it clear that he was not concerned with power politics but with individual souls, and as this realization spread, the disappointed masses turned from hope and praise to disgust and hatred.
This was really the crowds, which had welcomed Jesus when he entered the city, with Hosannas, in a few days deserted him, and changed its cry to “Crucify”. A popular hero who turns out to be a symbol of all that is hated and despised is by no means unknown in history, but Christ is the supreme example.
In the laconic sentences of St. Mark’s Gospel the grim desolation of the dying Saviour is revealed, all too clearly. The crowd has deserted him and fled. Peter had betrayed him. Jesus cried to God in the words of the twenty-second psalm- how often Jesus quotes the psalms, they must all have been known to him by heart; the psalms were his favorite hymm- book- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Yet, it was this crucified Man who before long was to be the spiritual magnet for souls from all nations and all countries. “I if I be lifted up, will draw al men to me”. The true message of Jesus begun to reach the world. The love of God for the individual soul, the loving purpose of God for each person, the plan of God for the world- indeed for all creation. Christ is the overwhelming proof of God’s love for us all. Christ’s death was the supreme giving and sharing of love. Love was lifted up on a cross so that everyone, all of us, might be united with that love.
When we love someone, we look for a return of our love. Parents are naturally saddened if one of their children does not return the affection shown; and children will be deeply hurt, psychologically disturbed perhaps for all their lives, when they feel themselves neglected or unwanted.
A boy or girl who falls in love is bitterly disappointed if the one on whom their affection has been set does not return it. The story tells us how the love of God to humanity was returned; how the messengers, the prophets, were maltreated; how the Son himself was murdered, and all by the very people most trusted, and set in a position of trust, to performed the work God wanted done. in bitter disappointment, an earthly owner or powerful ruler would naturally descend on the ungrateful betrayers and exact a brutal revenge.
Jesus criticized the wrongdoing and failures, though he criticized what they did and said, yet he loved them just as much as he loved other men, and was surely deeply hurt at their rejection. They not only rejected him, but brought about his death. Jesus forgives them all; in in spite of the bitterness and disappointment of finding his love repaid only by selfishness, or failure, betrayal, he forgave them and continued to love them.
As he was being crucified he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”. His love was too strong to be turned to hate by the wrongdoing of men. He makes allowances for the weakness and the tiredness and the coolness that we ourselves display only too often.
Christ will still continue to love us even though the mistakes and failures we have made bring their inevitable results. This we can be sure of, and this is why it is always possible to turn from despair, or hatred, or even betrayal, and be certain that the ever-open arms will be ready to receive us.
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