Hearing the story of the fearful passion of our Lord, one is struck by two things: he was opposed by the religious leaders of his people, and was branded as a blasphemer deserving of death. He was persecuted by the state for treason because he made himself a king. Jesus was rejected then by the powers-that-be just as he is rejected today by a world which worships only power and the hatred of the other. The disciples may have believed and loved Jesus, but they proved to be of no help, they ran for their lives. One denied him but then repented, another betrayed him and lost the gift of life. But! – look and see – what does God make of this wretched situation? He takes it and he turns it upside down, transforming it into a cosmic salvation of the world and the total destruction of death. It is as Isaiah prophesied: “For the Lord shall rise up as on Mount Perazim, be-stir himself as in the Valley of Gibeon, to carry out his work—strange his work! to perform his deed—alien his deed!” (Isaiah 28:21).
Today the power of the world and its worshippers are shown to be vain and empty. Today the Lord reveals true power, as we heard at the end of the Paschal Vigil Gospel, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)” And today, as he appears to his disciples in the upper room, saying: “‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:21-23).
Meditation by Archpriest David Petras