Which One Am I?
by Rev. Robert J. Hermley
Stories for Life Index
Each year after I have read the Passion and death of Jesus several times during Holy Week. I remind myself that one day I will sit down and write a series of meditations upon the various characters who appear in the Gospel story of Holy week.
I would first write an essay on Pontius Pilate who wanted desperately to release Christ because he knew that Jesus was innocent, but who suffered from the fear that the crowd might object. He was personally against the Crucifixion of Christ, but lacked the courage to say so. He wasn't going to push his personal opinions upon those who might be offended. He tried to please everybody and in the end, pleased nobody. "I find no guilt n Him." Pilate said, "therefore, I will chastise Him and release Him." Listen to his lack of logic - He is innocent, but to please you I will rough Him up. Then I will release Him because I know that He is innocent. Gosh, you could really get a lot of mileage on that statement as you compare Pilate to some so-called Catholic politicians of today.
Then, I would write about Peter. Poor, impetuous Peter; he really did love Christ. He was so down to earth, so very human. He boasted of his love for Christ, then fell asleep in the Garden as Jesus suffered His bloody sweat. Jesus chided him, "Can you not watch one hour with Me?" How that statement should rend the hearts of modern men who cannot watch one hour with Sunday Mass! I have given you one hundred and sixty hours a week to watch TV, entertain your friends, eat, exercise, sleep - can you not give Me back one hour?
Peter swore his allegiance to Christ, yet in a moment of weakness, he denied that he even knew him. The other apostles, who had actually walked side by side with Christ for three years and had witnessed all His miracles, ran away. How lonely Christ must have felt. They would later lay down their lives for Jesus and His teaching, but for now, that had run away from the battle. How very much like ourselves they were! How often have we professed our love for the Savior and then abandoned Him for some worldly pleasure? Away with Christ and give me my own will.
What kind words I would have in my essay for Veronica. She braved the crowd to wipe the face of the suffering Christ. She had no fear of what her neighbors would say; she did not care what her friends would think. She knew what was the right thing to do and she did it. She braved the crowd and the Roman soldiers to perform her great act of kindness; what a reward she got in return.
Simon of Cyrene would merit a paragraph, too. I would have to record that he did not carry the cross willingly, but he did help. Tradition tells us that as he walked along helping Christ, the weight of the cross became lighter . . . but Christ had already told those who listened, "My yoke is easy and My burden light." Simon learned, like many of us, that helping Christ is not as difficult as it seems at first.
It would be such a pleasure to write about the holy women of Jerusalem who wept to see Jesus in such a pitiable state. They remembered His kindness, His smile, His touching words to life their drooping spirits. They had watched Him bless their children, heal the deaf and the blind, cleanse the lepers, and they could not understand how anyone could be so cruel to one who cared so very much for the poor, the lame and the sick. The women could only weep. Jesus counseled them, "Weep not for Me, but for your children." - Weep for them because false prophets will try to water down their faith. The world will try to tell them that I was a myth; that My gospel was a myth. Your children are capable of great things; any one of them is capable of changing a little portion of the world into something beautiful, but apart fro Me, they can do nothing. With Me as the vine and they as the branches, living in Me, how we could convert the world! Pray that My drops of blood may be the seed of good leaders in the Church; leaders who teach what I taught, not doctrines that are popular - bishops and priests who will be loyal to My Church, to My Vicar on earth.
So far, all the accolades have gone to the women mentioned in the passion and death of Jesus. Why would modern women want to be the equal of men, when they have proved themselves to be their superior in faith?
What tender words I would summon to describe Mary Magdalen - the terrible sinner, now a saint, who had confessed her sins earlier and had exchanged the stench of her sins for the perfume of His love in washing the feet of the Messiah. She wept for her sins; Christ touched her heart and she was cured. Now, the sinner turned saint glued herself to the foot of the cross with Our Blessed Lady and St. John. What love repentant sinners sometimes show!
Then, I would write with deep affection and admiration of Christ's Mother, Mary. What heroic acceptance of the Divine Will! She had once said, "Yes" to the angel who brought her the Divine request and now, she was saying to it again, "Be it done to me according to Thy world." She was accepting her own counsel, her own good counsel, "Do whatever He tells you."
I would pen words of praise for St. John. He was the only male disciple who had the courage to stay with Christ until the very end. No wonder Christ gave him his greatest treasure, "Son, behold thy Mother." We all inherited Mary through John. May we always be as steadfast in our devotion both to Christ and to Mary.
Finally, were can I find the words to describe the despicable, cowardly betrayal of Jesus by Judas. When did he begin to plot against Christ? What made his love for Jesus grow cold? Perhaps he lost his love little by little. Maybe he took his love of Christ from the center of his heart and relegated it to a closet. But the real tragedy of Judas was that he never returned to ask forgiveness. Two men denied Christ that Good Friday, but only one went back to Confession. "Lord, you know everything, You know that I love You." And love he did, for Peter asked to be crucified upside-down at his death because he never felt worthy to mirror Christ again. He never forgot how weak he once was when he followed Christ, "At a distance."
I have a question, though. What happened to the blind and the lame that Christ had healed? Where were they? Where the lepers He cured? Where were the children He had caressed? Were they afraid to speak up because of fear of what others might say?
Each year, I ask myself which one of these characters of the passion I most resemble. If I had been there on Calvary's top, what would I have done? Which one of these characters would I have been? Which one do I most resemble?
Recently, after much thought, it occurred to me that perhaps I am a little of each. I run from Christ when He asks too much. I become afraid, like the apostles, when the worldly do not agree with my thinking, even when I know that I am doing the right thing. I help Christ like Simon for a time, but not always willingly. Sometimes, I must be forced to carry the cross. then, I repent wipe His face, like Veronica. Just like that crowd on Calvary, sometimes I say nothing while the world crucifies my Lord anew with its sins of materialism and disrespect for Papal authority.
I pray to stand firmly by the cross like Our Blessed Lady, Mary Magdalen and John, but become afraid when I am criticized for preaching fidelity and loyalty to His Church . . . but please God, keep me strong; may I never betray You like Judas did.
Lord, help me to be more like your Mother Mary and more and more like St. John . . . loyal to the end. Like Magdalen, let me wash Your sacred feet with my tears of remorse and dry them with the warmth of my love. Let me feel Your forgiveness. Let me feel Your forgiveness. Let me bring Your forgiveness to others.
May I see in all of my future trials, crosses and difficulties that You are truly giving me a chance in every one of them to answer the question that You once asked a repentant Peter, "Do you love Me?" . . . and Lord, You already know my answer, for You know everything; You know that I love You.