Before Procession: Mk 11:1-10; First Reading: Is 50:4-7; Psalm: 22. R. v. 2a; Second Reading: Phil 2:6-11; Passion Narrative: Mk 14:1-15:47



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Last Sunday, Jesus said that his hour has come. Today, Jesus journeys into Jerusalem to embrace this hour. Our gospel reading of today before the procession explains how Jesus did this. Jesus made a triumphal entry on a colt alongside the crowd who chanted songs of victory waving their palm branches. This is the first phase of Christ’s impending passion. The second phase is the passion proper; his arrest and crucifixion. It is a very long narrative packed with accusations, trial, suffering, and death. And Christ happens to be the main protagonist. Christ was accused, tried, condemn and crucified to the pleasure of his accusers. But the paradox remains – “How can God be tried?”

A trial is a formal meeting in a law court where a judge listens to evidence and decides whether a person is guilty of a crime or not. The passion narrative of Christ obviously was another court room. Pilate was the judge, Christ was the accused, and the chief priests were the plaintiffs. But here is the irony of the whole proceeding – ‘God was tried.’ But can truth be tried? Isn’t that a contradiction? Christ is the Truth (Jn14:6). So what is there to be tried in truth? Truth is self-evident. So why seek for evidence to blame truth? One thing is clear. The accusers of Jesus saw and knew the Truth but refused to embrace the Truth. Truth tried them, and found them guilty.

Truth stood before Pilate. Pilate saw the Truth but was afraid to witness to the Truth all the way. His heart told him to; but his head told him not to, for fear of insurrection. Pilate perceived “that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered Jesus up.” But his witnessing to the Truth was deficient. He yielded to the crowd, spared Barabbas and condemned Jesus. Truth tried him and found him guilty.

The chief priests were jealous, slanderous and closed minded to the Truth. Deep within them they knew Jesus was blameless; “they sought testimony against him to put him to death; but found none. For many bore false witness against Jesus, and their witness did not agree.” The chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release for them Barabbas instead of Jesus. They found blame in the blameless; closed their hearts to the truth, and mislead others to do likewise. Truly, Jesus was right about them when he said; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Mt 23:13). These men lived and interacted with Truth but chose falsehood. Truth tried them and found them guilty.

The disciples also failed. They knew the truth – “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24). “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28). But when on trial; they failed. Truth tried them and found them guilty.

The crowd was myopic. They saw the Truth as Christ rode on a donkey; a sign that Christ is the king of peace and not of war. Yet they followed their suppositions and turn against Christ when Christ was arrested and failed to meet their expectations. Truth tried them and found them guilty also.

Christ is the Truth. To know Christ is to know the truth. And to know the truth implies that we know when we are living in denial. Christ therefore is not on trial. We are the ones actually on trial. And the truth of the gospel is the evidence upon which we shall be judged. Our trial is ongoing. So as we leave the Church today our trial continues. It continues in our homes where we have to choose between honesty and lying in our marital relationships. Where we have to admit our mistakes and learn to grow in love. Where we have to renounce bad parenting to become responsible parents.

The trial continues in our daily responsibilities; where we have to choose between standing with Christ and standing with the crowd. Between speaking the truth and seeking popularity. Between listening to God and following our selfish inclinations. Between the pleasure of the world and the pain of the cross.

Truth is self-evident. It echoes within us even when we speak otherwise. It stands before us every day and looks us in the eye. When we deny the truth, we are condemned already. When we embrace the truth we are truly free. Only the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32). The condemnation of Christ by Pilate was an unjust condemnation yet truth was not defeated. When Jesus breathed his last and died and the curtain of the temple was torn in two; the centurion testified; “Truly this man was the Son of God.” When Christ rose again on the third day, truth prevailed. And when the gospel of Christ began to grow exponentially even in his physical absence, truth triumphed over all oppositions.

We cannot try or suppress truth. Truth tries and exposes us. And when we face the trial of truth, all falsehood is exposed. And at this point, the choices we make onward will either make or mar our salvation.  



Lord Jesus, grant us the courage to witness to the truth in all that we do. Amen.

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