Apr 14, 2017

Good Friday. Safe Passage.

When Christ had informed His disciples that one of them would betray Him, Peter boldly said that he would never do so - that, even if everyone else did, he would stay loyal. Peter promised Christ that he lay down his life for Him.

But when push came to shove, Peter took a back seat. He disappeared into the crowd. He returned to the comfort of his home, distressed by his guilt, shaken by the brutality of Christ's treatment by the authorities.

Peter's failure at that pivotal moment is also ours today.

For example, social media has been ablaze with outrage over the treatment of a passenger forcefully dragged screaming and kicking from his seat on an overbooked airplane that was waiting to take off. The hard handed tactics used by the authorities to remove an innocent man have naturally evoked much consternation and anger, especially by those who watched the graphic video of the incident that has since gone "viral" around the world.

Of course, such an incident should never have been allowed to happen, not just by those in charge. But also by those on board.

So, this is my question. There were 70 passengers on that plane. After repeated requests for someone to make a sacrifice for the sake of others - regardless of the circumstances - to give up their seat so that others could get home safely, where were the Christians?

Where there any Christians on board? Would you or I have allowed ourselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of others? "This is my seat. I paid for it. It's mine. I will not allow myself to be inconvenienced by anyone. It's the authorities problem, not my problem! I am outraged that I should be even asked be burdened when it’s not my fault."

And then after the incident, having witnessed and captured on their smartphones the perceived brutality of someone being unfairly dragged away, why didn't everyone on board, there and then, stand up against the injustice and walk off in protest? If everyone took themselves off the flight to make this point, would not the story have ended differently? When Moses asked the Chosen People to give up their personal belongings, their golden jewelry and gems to help construct and adorn the Ark of the Covenant and Tabernacle of the Lord, he had to soon tell them to stop - because their over-generous sacrificing threatened putting all the work to a complete standstill! (cf. Exodus 36:6ff).

But maybe, there were no Christians on Flight 3411. After all, the incident happened on a Sunday - and I'm sure all the Christians were at church that day!! But, if some were on board and witnessed firsthand that event, maybe, hopefully, some of them are now like St. Peter, weeping bitterly because they did not have the courage, there and then, to freely make a sacrifice for others, even when it was packaged with incentives.

What if a fellow passenger saw my priest collar or knew I was an ordained minister, or noticed a cross you were wearing, or suspected you as a Christian, and nudged you in the arm and said, "You are one of His disciples, aren't you?" Would we have denied it, like Peter, and then, afterwards regretted our cowardliness?

Now, I am in no way suggesting that we should imitate the unfortunate passenger who was forcefully taken from the aircraft against his will, injured and bloodied as he was forced out of the aircraft.  Instead, we should always strive to imitate Christ Himself, even in the heat of the moment, who freely, without force, without anger, without protesting His innocence, without shouting back, without having to be dragged and pinned down, but instead freely and wholeheartedly gave up His seat at the right hand of the Father to take the lowest place possible to ensure that all sinners might be free to one day go home.

Christ says to you and me in the daily, ordinary events of life, "Take up your cross daily and follow me". I often say “Yes, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my family, let me first sort out my affairs, let me get back to you. I have something important to attended to right now. Don't call me right now. I'll call you, when it's convenient." (cf. Luke 9:59)

Lord, forgive for being more concerned with the sins of others, than my own sins, my own weakness, my own fears. For the times I would not carry even the lightest cross you gave me. When I could have easily shared in your one eternal sacrifice in the events of every day, but I choose not to. Too many times, I stood by silent, or hid myself in the crowd or blamed others, using the sins of those around me to distract me from my own.  You forgave the repentant thief. You forgave the contrite Peter. Forgive me and give me the strength to never to refuse your Cross, in whatever form or shape, big or small. I know now, and maybe only too late, it’s a small price to carry for love of you. 

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

Course Correction

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