Love Story

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Amen.

The final hours of the life of Jesus Christ were filled with suffering.

Jesus was unfairly prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Hebrew law. He was unfairly prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Roman law. He was mocked and rejected by hostile crowds. He was tortured and beaten by cruel soldiers.

But the worst of Christ’s last suffering—the suffering known as his “passion”—was not the pain inflicted by the hands of strangers. Jesus knew all along that the authorities would kill him in the end.

No, the worst pain must have come from the betrayal by his own disciples. Christ had called them to a new faith. He felt so close to them that he referred to them as his “family.”

Yet St. Luke’s account of Christ’s final hours records how one disciple, Judas, turned his master over to the Romans. Then Peter—the hand-picked leader of Christ’s followers—claims three times that he doesn’t know Jesus. Then all his followers head for the hills. Only at the very end does Luke note—with a hint of sadness in Luke’s words–that all Christ’s “acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Surely, this abandonment must have been the worst of Christ’s passion. Having spent two years in community with him, the followers left him to die.

Yet we know from the later appearances of Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection that his devotion to them was undiminished by his death. Indeed, the Risen Christ explained to his followers why it was necessary that he make the supreme sacrifice for them.

So as we listen now to St. Luke’s lengthy account of the Passion of Christ, let us first remember how we have betrayed the way Jesus taught. How we have failed, for example, to love our neighbors; how we have failed to love ourselves.

And then, let us be grateful that Christ died for us. Despite our betrayals, he offers us his way.

For the passion story is not ultimately a story of betrayal but a story of faithfulness—Christ being faithful to the men and women he called—and to the God he brought to them.

The passion is not ultimately a tragedy but a story of faith. It’s a love story.

Amen.


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