The Holy Spirit could move us in many ways as we contemplate the Passion narrative according to Mark (14:1-15:47). However, if we need some guidance in this endeavor, let me invite you to join me in considering Jesus’ decision to follow the Father’s script also in refusing to defend himself when his very life was on the line.
Jesus’ unparalleled fortitude and unwavering trust in his Father’s love, along with his heroic obedience to the plan of salvation, should become quite a challenge for us who claim to be his disciples.
Jesus lets himself be betrayed by a kiss from one he had chosen to be among his closest friends. He allows for his arrest to take place; he remains silent before the high priest and the Sanhedrin as he is falsely accused.
After admitting to Pilate to be the King of the Jews, although he knows very well that the Roman Governor has power of life and death over everyone in Palestine at that time, Jesus refuses to give any further answers.
He lets himself be insulted, slapped, scourged, crowned with thorns. He turns down even the offer of taking a sip of sour wine mixed with myrrh to deaden the pain of the nails about to be driven through his wrists and feet. And he lets stand the dare to come down from the cross to dazzle all onlookers.
This is how Jesus faces the most severe trials of his life and death prompting the Roman centurion to exclaim: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
For disciples of Christ Jesus, such as ourselves, there are very hard, bordering on impossible, challenges: to forgive any wrong done to us from the bottom of our heart; to consider others as more important than ourselves and to place their wellbeing ahead of our own; to implement the new commandment of loving each other as Jesus loved us from the cross, all the way to forfeiting our life for someone else. But we may find an equally difficult challenge in remaining serene and trusting when we are falsely accused or slandered.
Jesus could endure his passion because he felt completely embraced by the closeness of the Father. He had already told us that the Father’s closeness to us must be seen as a source of comforting blessing:
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. (Luke 6:22)
Inspired by Jesus’ poise and trust while facing the severest trials of his life leading to his death, we shall remember what he told us, because he believes that we are truly his disciples in spite of our patent frailty. Our inner strength must come solely from the Holy Spirit:
When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matthew 10:19-20)