THE CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S PASSION
First Reading: Is 52:13-53:12; Psalm: 31. R. v. Lk 23:46b; Second Reading: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Gospel: Jn 18:1-19:42
TRUTH AND THE EVIL OF GOOD FRIDAY
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
One of the most shocking and gory media episodes in past years is the gruesome murder of the 21 Coptic Christians in January 2015 by ISIS. The gory video of this massacre surfaced on the internet on the 15 of February, 2015. The video covered a scene of 21 (20 Egyptian and 1 Ghanaian) men dressed in orange suits bent on their knees, each with a militiaman dressed in black holding a knife at their throats standing behind them. All twenty-one men were slaughtered like animals by this jihadists group leaving their lifeless body lined up in a desert area in their blood-stained orange suits.
The puzzling question is how these militiamen became so cold-blooded to carry out such execution on their fellow men whose only crime was the harmless decision of choosing to be Christian? How did these gruesome murderers managed to raise a knife to slit the throat of a fellow human without any pity as they watched their victims quake in pain? Our answers may be far-fetched but the most plausible answer to this question is that man is capable of any evil.
Looking at the gruesome manner in which Jesus was killed, there is obviously nothing good about this Friday. To be realistic, what is good about the killing of an innocent man? And worst still in a very gruesome manner. Jesus was accused of blasphemy and treason. He was called an impostor, a criminal and a deceiver. Pilate judged him and found no fault in him. But evil found fault in the innocent. Jesus’ only crime was Truth. He was the truth and stood for the truth. And just like he told Pilate; only those who are for the truth listen to him.
When we are not open to truth, we become the tool of evil. Pilate was better than the accusers of Jesus. He wanted to know what truth was but did not know that truth stood before him. The accusers of Jesus on the other hand were given countless opportunities to accept truth but chose to close their minds to truth. Pilate’s question remains relevant till today. “What is truth?”
Truth is not relative as many believe. Because if everyone thinks that what s/he does is right and true then the entire world would be in chaos. And this is the cause of the evil in our world today. Because we have refused to accept truth for what it really is and choose to decide for ourselves what we feel is true. This is why a man can slit the throat of a fellow human and consider his action as righteous and true. This is why we can abort a baby and consider it just and lawful. This is why we see revenge as the only way to heal from pain and hurts. But there is no chaos in truth. Truth is one. Truth unites; it is not divisive. And Jesus is truth.
Jesus is truth because he has taught us the one and only truth: Love God and love your neighbour. There is no other truth truer than this. And this truth is not limited to Christianity because we can love irrespective of our religion and beliefs. So until we accept this truth, evil and chaos will persist in our world.
The evil of Good Friday is that hatred prevailed over love. It is that man failed to give truth a chance that he became an enemy of truth. It is that man had consistently built a bulwark against truth and love that he became accustomed to evil. When we vehemently resist truth which is the love of God in our hearts; we can be capable of any evil. For Jesus to be killed in the manner he was killed on Good Friday showed how evil can transform man into a cold-blood monster. If we wished to act differently from the accusers and murderers of Jesus, then we need to give truth a chance in our lives. And this means allowing the love of God to reign in our hearts.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Crucified Jesus, help us by your grace to resist evil and to open up our hearts to the truth of your word. Amen.