Jesus Is Listening
As I processed through the church last night with our Lord during the Eucharistic procession, I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on the most intimate conversations. I was highly aware of the Lord’s awareness of each and every person we passed by during the procession. Jesus is listening attentively to each of us, to the desires of every human heart. Jesus is near, is listening, always loving us to the very end. Jesus is the High Priest who comes with compassion, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus is the one who has been tested in every way, yet without sin. (See Hebrews 4: 15)
Last night, as Jesus was making his way from the Upper Room through the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, he knew his own passion awaited. His hour had finally arrived, when he would freely give himself into the hands of those seeking to take his life, to silence the Word of God.
As we were going to bed last night to take our rest, Jesus was handed over to begin his passion. As we awoke and had our morning coffee, Jesus was already beginning to feel the weariness of taking on the sins of the world, the anguish of listening to the false testimony against him, the loneliness of abandonment and betrayal. “Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,” (John 18:4) lovingly resolves to cling to the Father in order to cleanse us of the sin that clings to us.
The reality of Jesus’ true identity is now coming more clearly into focus, even for those who would hand him over. When he is approached by Judas and the soldiers, Jesus asks: “Whom are you looking for? They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” (John 18: 4-5) With this response, they turned away and fell to the ground. Jesus is making it plainly clear; he is the Son of God.
When Pilate questions Jesus about being the King of the Jews, Jesus answers: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” (John 18: 33-36) Jesus is pointing to the Kingdom that is his as King of Kings, not just King of the Jews. Even when Pilate tries to release Jesus, seeing he has committed no crimes, the people instead ask for the release of Barabbas. (John 18:38-40) In Hebrew, the word Barabbas means, son of the Father.
The evidence against Jesus reveals the truth to all that he is the Son of God. But even in the face of this truth, indeed, because of this truth, Jesus is sent to Calvary where he is to be crucified. This is the will of the Father, the cup that Jesus must drink, (John 18:11) to give his life for the salvation of the world. The chief priests felt justified in crucifying Jesus. The Jewish law said he must die since he made himself the Son of God. (John 19:7) Here is a man-made law that would prevent God from being God, and it is used to silence God. But as we already know, God is God and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday will give voice to the Word of God once and for all. The truth of God cannot be silenced.
With this death sentence, Jesus is led away to be crucified. At the foot of the cross stand Mary, the disciple John, and some other women. Here is the faithful remnant, those who lovingly remain with Jesus. This is where we are called to be. At times, we ourselves or those we love experience the cross. When we experience the pain of suffering and loss, we can trust that Jesus has been there before, and will accompany us. We can look to Jesus, who in his total self-abandonment experienced the Father’s complete giving of himself to the Son in loving support. In this same manner, Jesus always gives himself completely to those of us who suffer with and for him. The cross is a difficult place to be, but it is a place of privilege and love when we allow Christ to be present to us there.
And let us not forget the loving presence of Mary and John. We are to accompany others in their moments of pain. Just this morning, a friend called to tell me that yesterday he learned of a diagnosis of cancer. He needed to hear words of encouragement. Also this morning, another friend notified me that his nephew died suddenly earlier this week, and his own mother is facing serious health threats. He was asking for prayers. And today, the world is learning that yesterday at Kenya’s Garissa University, 147 Christians were murdered by extremists, just because they were Christian. Hundreds of other Christian students were taken hostage for the same reason.
These human realities cause me to return again to the beginning of this homily. Jesus knows our needs. He is present in our midst. He died for our sins. His love is faithful and everlasting, for all of us. His love, His sacrifice, His death, and ultimately, His resurrection make all the difference.
Jesus is listening. Let us speak to him. Let us trust him. Let us remain with him, whether upon the cross at the foot of the cross or anywhere else our journey leads. Always, Jesus is with us. He, who freely laid down his life for us, will love us to the end.