Amend the ways, and you will know why you struggle to go ahead!
During the Governorship of PONTIUS PILATE, there was a man named Jesus the Nazarene. A few people, out of sheer jealousy and revenge, conspired against him and at one night seized, tied up like a bandit and produced him in front of the civil authorities. They leveled on him false accusations and strongly condemned him to crucifixion. But he was totally blameless and immune from any stain of crime. Neither was there anybody to plead on his behalf nor did he himself utter much to prove his innocence. And none grasped the little he spoke either, because the prophecies about him had to be fulfilled!
He was born to a virgin, and a filthy cattle-shed was his birth-tent! A country carpenter brought him up! When grew up in age he left his parents and home and lived, for a long time, in anonymity! When he was thirty, he returned to his home town; called twelve men to his company, not as servants but as his own brothers and friends. In the following three years he, accompanied by them, traveled both on foot and in boats the length and breadth of Palestine preaching and teaching during day and praying extensively in the silence of night.
He sowed the seeds of ‘glad tidings’; availed himself to the weak as their refuge; to the hungry as their bread; to those in chains of sin as their freedom and to the dead as their new life! He voiced bravely against every social evil of his time. He neither despised nor feared any one and consequently, had collected enemies for himself who followed him secretly! Finally arrived their bloody turn and the crooked projects of the dark fructified! The anarchy of the evil emerged victorious! His own disciple’s kiss of betrayal brought him to the court of ‘Gabbatha’!
Pilate, without due trial, sentenced him to crucifixion! He knew for certain what was Truth and the meaning of his wife’s dream about this innocent man was very much clear to him. But he was filled with fear! Power, possessions and positions were more precious to him than truth and justice. He was mad after public applause and it was necessary for him to appease the leaders and the chief priests. He could easily foresee the disastrous consequences of not taking their side. Therefore, he joined his hands with the evil!
But his conscience pricked him painfully for having silenced and buried the Truth! He struggled to evade the pointed arrows of his guilt and gain a grain of peace! Hence, he took a gold-bowl of water and washed his hands to get rid of the dirt of his crime and extinguish the fire of guilt within! His hands were well soaked but his eyes didn’t brim over! His palms turned whiter but his heart, dirtier!
There was another fisherman named PETER, an expert in his profession! He lived happily with his family. One evening he was on the sea-shore with his companions mending their nets. A stranger approached him. He wore a long gown and had dense, curly hair on his head and a fine beard. ‘Follow me’, he said to him very informally.
The poor fisher first feared slightly and then gazed into his bluish eyes. His face glowed in a divine halo and a sweet fragrance spread every where! He felt irresistibly gravitated to that holy figure and without a second thought, renouncing everything, followed him. Gradually another eleven joined them and he was made the leader of the group and lived with their Master in the following three years.
He joyfully accompanied his Master as his own shadow, listened to his words, witnessed to his miracles and experienced his ardent love and providence. They shared one bread and one cup. He was willing even to die for his Master for he was the apple of his eye! But all his dreams turned head down! He abandoned his captured Master, escaped in the dark and hid behind trees! But his heart wept bitterly and the thoughts of desertion haunted him ruthlessly! He couldn’t proceed any further, got up and walked back for his love for his Master over-weighed his fear!
Though he followed his Master at a distance, fell again on his way. He denounced his beloved Master thrice and then the cock crowed! Arrows of guilt thrusted upon his heart and its agonies streamed out of his swollen eyes! His inner griefs sounded as deep sighs and then they broke out as loud wail! He cried bitterly beating on his breast!
PILATE, who crucified the Truth, though washed his hands, didn’t shed tears! He didn’t repent of the wrong he had committed and, therefore, was deprived of inner solace! PETER, who denounced the Truth, grew contrite when his heart was inflicted and lamented when he realized his mistake and he was redeemed!
Both good and evil reside within our own very selves. Truth and non-truth prevail today too. Don’t we too occasionally crucify the Truth, slam the door of our hearts and shut deliberately our eyes against it? Don’t we side with the wrong and tarnish the innocent? Don’t we dare do any worse and resort to malicious means to earn for us power, position and possessions? Don’t we, in our own manner, sentence the Nazarene to human slaughter?
Though questions of this sort are many, the answer is often a big ‘YES’! Don’t we too denounce the good and fear to follow the Truth? Don’t we too forsake our loved ones for personal gains and hesitate to suffer for their cause? Don’t we too conveniently ignore our indebtedness to those who love us? Don’t we too fail to keep our promises, uphold our faith in God and live as genuine Christians? The answer often is the same ‘YES’!
The season of Lent assures us that despite our occasional falls we can still go ahead in full hope and optimism provided we amend our wrongs. Debilities will continue to form part of our frail nature and mistakes will keep recurring. Our misdeeds may get multiplied and we may stumble upon them many more times. Yet the Lord, though very often silent, will be beside us.
He, who knows us through and through, will certainly fill the pit of our imperfections with heaps of His blessings. He will care for us and beneath His outstretched wings of providential love we will find safety and consolation. What He demands of us is a sincere sorrow for our short-comings, an authentic contrition and proportionate reparations for the same. These will gift us with willingness and courage to make ‘U’ turns from our faulty routes and thus turn over a new leaf!
In this Lenten season let us take sound resolutions, melt our hearts away in strict abstinence and love the solitude of prayer. Let us cleanse the filth of our hearts and be sanctified by worthy and regular reception of holy Sacraments. Let us deck the temple of our souls with good thoughts, words and deeds and beseech the Holy Spirit to re-create us.
Let us commend our sufferings to our Heavenly Mother of Sorrows, draw strength to subdue our temptations and there by brighten up the remaining span of our earthly existence. Let us weep bitterly when our drawbacks are repeated and constantly wash, not our hands in clear waters but, our hearts in the snow-melted streams of true contrition!
– – – written by Fr. Thomas Pattathilchira, CMF