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From the Sermon by His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, at Cross Maidan - Good Friday, 2018

March 30, 2018

My dear Brothers and Sisters, as we have gathered here on these grounds, we come to reflect on the Passion and Death of Jesus. We have heard the Passion sung and the scene played out of those dramatic last moments, as Jesus undergoes tremendous pain and suffering for all of us so that we can merit salvation.

We are invited to look at the Cross and draw strength from this extreme act of self-sacrifice. Jesus’ love for us and his desire that you and I can attain the gifts of eternal life, enable us to draw strength and courage as we gaze at the crucified Christ.

We are invited to focus our attention on three principal characters that have significant roles to play in today's Passion Narrative:

1. Are we Judas? Judas heard Christ preach, he was one of the disciples and one that Jesus trusted. After all, why would Jesus put him in charge of the common fund had he not trusted? But scripture tells us that Judas used to help himselffrom the common fund and over a period of time, his conscience was dulled. A dulled conscience gives way to a lapsed conscience and that made him accept the blood money to betray Jesus. This leaves us with the first question: has our conscience been dulled over a period of time that we too land up betraying Jesus?

2. Are we Pilate? Weak and unable to stand up for the truth? We have heard in the course of the Gospel that Pilate said, to different people, “I find no guilt in this Man” - not just once but three times! In spite of knowing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate gave in to the pressure of the crowds and had Jesus executed. Why did the powerful Roman Governor give in to the crowds? Why could he not stand up for the truth? Well, the weakness of Pilate was in his thirst for power. He did not want influential people to complain about him to the authorities and so he gave in.

3. Finally, we have Peter - a bumbling man, spontaneous and one who constantly got into trouble because he put his foot in his mouth. He was always one who would shoot off his mouth and then later understand the consequences of his actions and words. Peter could make the declaration of faith and then right after, be the spokesperson for Satan. He was committed to Christ and yet he denied him. We must remember that there is no mention of the other disciples during the passion of Christ, except John. While the others abandoned Jesus totally, Peter followed him. Yes, he did deny Jesus; but the moment he realised what he had done, he was filled with remorse and was willing to make changes in his life. 

These three names have become synonymous with behaviour patterns over the ages. If a good friend lets us down, we say ‘don’t be a Judas’. Pilate is remembered for his lack of willingness to take a stand. A person who is non-committal is often told ‘don’t wash your hands of this issue’ or ‘don’t do a Pilate’. And finally, for a person you can depend on to some extent, you call that person ‘a rock’ like Peter. 

How, then, do we want history to remember us?

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