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August 20, 2018

“WHAT WILL YOU GIVE ME…?”

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HOLY WEEK REFLECTION


Beloved, as the holy season of Lent reaches its apex, culminating into Holy Week and gradually draws to a close, one is confronted with these soul-searching questions: “Have I really followed Jesus on His way to Calvary, carrying my cross?” ‘Did I feel the touch and aura of this season in any way at all as a believer who must identify with Christ in His temptations and sufferings? ‘Have I really suffered anything? What cross am I carrying? ‘What can I boast of as this holy season of lent comes to an end?’ ‘What do I glory in?’ ‘What gives me satisfaction and sense of fulfillment as this period gradually draws to a close?’ What about you, beloved? Do you glory in how many people you have betrayed, lied against, slandered, hurt, killed and destroyed? As a follower of Jesus Christ in His footsteps, what actually have you suffered or gone through in the hands of others? At this juncture what comes to mind immediately is the spiritual stance of our brother in faith, Paul of Tarsus who says, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

 

Holy week

 

When I was growing up, we were taught both in our Block Rosary Centres and at our Junior Praesidium Meetings as young Legionaries to be always ready and ever on the look-out to assisting aged and elderly persons in any way we could. It could be helping them with compound cleaning, laundry, services, fetching of water, firewood, climbing their economic trees and helping them in plucking the ripe fruits for them. In all these, we were advised to expect no material reward from those aged and elderly persons we helped, except their words of blessings over us. We heeded to such godly instructions, and while carrying out those virtuous acts our minds were focused on the blessings we would receive. The Brother that was mentoring us then in the Legion of Mary once told us that whenever those aged and elderly papas and mamas bless us, their blessings are so powerful that they always go to effect. In other words, their blessings will follow us, shaping our future unto progress and success.

 

We believed so much in that eternal truth that whenever we heard their words of blessings like, “My son/daughter, may God bless you”, “may good things of life follow you always,” we tend to be euphoric with joy and excitement. Honestly speaking, I can testify to the wonders of such blessings in my life today even as a priest. Today, looking back to those our early days and what we see today, one notices a very sharp distinction, dichotomy, and disparity from what used to be, especially with regard to majority of our youths. Nothing goes for noting. The problem is not peculiar to our youths alone but almost everybody seems to be caught up in this obnoxious web of materialism.

 

Money and what money can buy have really taken the centre stage such that humans of today are ready to do anything provided money or what money can buy is involved. The eternal values of truth, justice, and fairness are becoming things of the past. We are no longer apt in being charitable with our talents, time, and treasures. Most parents seem to have lost touch with the reality of inculcating and transmitting those noble and eternal values to their children. Ask a young boy of today to help you pluck some oranges at the back of your house, he will reply you immediately without a second thought, “What will you give me?” Ask a girl of today to help you carry some of your luggage to a particular destination, her response will be, “what will you give me?” Some would add, “How much are you going to pay me?” That is the level we seem to have reached today.

 

When I was a Principal of a school, working for the Government Approval of my school with the Ministry of Education, almost every office I entered must demand for one thing or the other. Just for them to locate your file, you must pay some money. To reach at the proper person to attend to you, you must bring money for recharge card so as to call the person on phone. Everything goes with the demand, “What will you give me?” Even someone informing you of his/her birthday celebration coming up soon, the person will add, “What will you give me?” Only few would care to ask for prayers. Haba! Where are we heading to? What is happening? Quest for materialism eating very deeply in the fabric of this age. That of course, informs the topic of our Holy Week Reflection, though from a scriptural perspective.

 

The climax of Our Lord’s suffering is felt much during the Holy Week ceremonies. Jesus is entering into His passion for the sake of you and I. The scriptures must be fulfilled. He rightly says it thus: “The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24). The Gospel account of Matthew has it that one of the twelve (disciples), who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the Chief Priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you”? And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him (cf. Matt. 26:14-16). Very painful? What a betrayal. The one Jesus chose, trusted and brought very close has betrayed him. Judas was much concerned about what he could get out of the deal than the gravity of his action. This must have pained Jesus so much. Just because of thirty pieces of silver (money) that Judas sold out his Lord and Master to the enemies. This reminds me of the wisdom quote that says, “The wound inflicted by the enemy heals more easily than the one inflicted by a friend”. What an abuse of privilege? This has shown clearly that we are more vulnerable in the hands of our friend than in the hands of our enemies.

 

Beloved, our reflection is unfolding the experience of Jesus Christ in the hands of these enemies, but I would wish you see yourself too in this picture and drama of our salvation. Have you had similar experiences as a believer and follower of Christ? Have you suffered similar fate of betrayal in the hands of so-called friends? Consider the story of Joseph (cf. Gen. 37). Petty greed and jealousy could lead to betrayal. Check it, at the base of every betrayal is worldly ambition, greed, and jealously. Inferiority complex could also lead to betrayal. Any betrayer is fundamentally sick, immature, insecure, and lacks self-confidence. This statement holds true that “he who stands for nothing will fall for anything”. A betrayer has no moral principle and spiritual stamina. Just like Esau who sold his birthright for a pot of porridge, so a betrayer can sell himself/herself and anybody because of what he/she expect to get.

 

In order to gain favour from those in positions of authority, some of us Christians have betrayed our brother or our sister. So as to be favoured in one thing or another, some of us have betrayed our friends, lying terribly against them. We have not been charitable with the reputation of others simply because we aim at pulling them down so that we could climb up. God is watching. I remarked earlier that a betrayer is fundamentally sick. Yes, he/she is sick in the head. Instead of appreciating and acknowledging the virtues, achievements, successes and contributions of the other, the betrayer becomes rather intimidated by them. By way of psychological defense mechanism, the betrayer takes to destructive criticism and eventual betrayal. Search yourself!

 

Christ Jesus remains a model for believers. All victims of betrayal should take solace in Jesus, especially at this very moment his passion is being played out again. If Jesus who is God could suffer such in the hands of His creatures, then no one is shielded and insulated from the possibility of betrayal from people around us. This reflection calls us to build up our trust in God rather than in man. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 24:9-13 thus: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved”.

 

May God open our spiritual eyes to see how we have strayed and betrayed Him in one another. May He grant us a repentant spirit and contrite heart especially in this Holy Week.

Peace Be With You!

 

Rev. Fr. Abel Ezenwa

Writes from St. Martins Parish, Owerre-Ebeiri

in Orlu Diocese. 08063631536

 


 

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