Saturday, February 23, 2019

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified Jesus.  The inscription of the charge against Him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with Him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by mocked Him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with Him also taunted Him. – Mark 15:25-32

The Gospel of Mark makes no mention of the repentance of one of the thieves, instead notes that the two bandits also taunted Christ.  It is a theme in Mark’s Passion Story … this mocking, this deriding, this taunting of Christ.  It is as if the mockery was even more painful than this cruel means of execution, a form that was savage for the purpose of deterrence.

Yet the tone of the taunting has within it, at least to my ears, the disdain that follows a disappointment.  This Jesus made such bold claims about saving the nation, yet now, this rabbi, this would-be messiah, could not even save Himself.  “Pitiful, so downright pitiful, this man who got our hopes up only to let us all down!”  So some of the mockers must have thought.  “Boasting that Herod’s Temple and its leadership would be brought down into ruins,” yet there He is, nailed to a cross.  “Some victory over the Romans!”

priest mocking christ“Only Time will tell” is the saying … only time will tell.  And this saying would prove true in the case of this seemingly defeated messiah.  The mockers, if they would live long enough, would see the Temple left in ruins, the Romans withdrawing their troops, and the rise of a new way of understanding the working of God, Christianity.  Only Time will tell … and in Time it confirmed.

I find mockery a form of assault against which few laws are written.  Mocking others is a socially permitted cruelty, a belittling of another, yet, becomes also a belittling of one’s own self.  I can’t recall Christ ever mocking anyone.  Confronting them, yes.  Challenging them, yes.  But mocking, I can’t think of a single occurrence.  So when I witness Christians entering into the mockery of another person … the spirit of Christ seems faint and shamed within them.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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