What would happen if the story of our Lord’s Passion were a reality show?

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Isaiah 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Philippians 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

One common feature among the Gospel writers was the way they narrated the passion and the death of Jesus. No longer were the sayings and deeds of Jesus arranged according to the writers’ intentions (for their specific communities), but all of them followed closely the sequence of the passion of Jesus chronologically beginning from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In our modern days, it would be like a camera man recording the event over several days in what now popularly called——-reality show. Imagine if this reality show is now accessible electronically, what effects will it bring to the world?

Surely it may be the most publicized story ever reported. It may enrage activists who are against social injustice. It may infuriate humanitarians who are against cruelty. It may provoke advocates who are against capital punishment. It may generate sporadic protests or rallies to save that pitiful “criminal”. It may even be used to promote anti Semitism. Emotional responsiveness is easily stimulated by images we see, but how long can these images sustain our human sentiments? How many people still talk about the tiny body of the drowned refugee boy on a beach in Turkey? How many remember Nepal earthquake with casualties over three thousands? These fairly recent stories give way to ever newer stories each day. Their once sensational moments discolor even in a short period of time. The story of our Lord’s Passion, no matter how “real” and great it is, may not escape the fate of momentary remembrance and desensitization over time. How sad if that is the case, for then Christians “are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15: 19).

Thanks to our Holy Mother Church who, in her yearly celebration, reminds us of this great story and keeps it going for two thousand years. Our good Lord who knows our human weaknesses but loves us still, had commanded this story to be remembered in every liturgical worship, so that our faith can be revivified by His passion, death and resurrection.

Dear friends, what are our responses today if we see Jesus enter into Jerusalem in a live broadcast? Do we have the courage to watch Jesus when He prays in Gethsemane, ready to be arrested, judged and tortured? Can we withstand the grievances when He is being ridiculed and mocked? Are we in anguish when seeing Him fall flat on the road to Calvary? Do we dare to witness the moment when the nails puncture His hands and feet and then His last breath on the cross? Or………..do we, treating it as just another story, habitually switch the screen and put it out of our sight, out of our mind?

Posted: March 20, 2016

May Tam

May Tam, Bachelor of Social Science (University of Hong Kong), Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto)

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