Start planning the life you want to see flashing before your eyes

by Susanna Mak

Recently, I have come across an interesting travel advertisement with a catchy slogan that goes something like this, “Start planning the life you want to see flashing before your eyes!” The protagonist in the ad decides to become the “director” of his own life and goes on to jam-pack his life with adventures in exotic locations at bargain prices. As we conclude the Lenten season of repentance and enter into the most sacred space of the Liturgical year, Holy Week and Easter, it is especially timely for us, perhaps, to reflect in earnest the life we have been living and the one we want to see flashing before our eyes.

This week’s readings offer a concise portrayal of Jesus as well as His life and death; He is the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah who refuses to back down from the taunting and tortures of his enemies and shows absolute trust in God: “I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Is 50:7). Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He has been constantly challenged, tested, physically threatened, and towards the end of His earthly life, betrayed, abandoned, beaten, tortured, crucified, and finally died on the cross. In St. Paul’s “Christ Hymn”, Jesus is described as the one who “was in the form of God” but “did not regard equality with God”; “emptied” and “humbled” himself, taking “the form of a slave”, “coming in human likeness” (Phil 2:6-8). Echoing the confidence expressed by Isaiah that He “shall not be put to shame”, St. Paul proclaims that “God greatly exalted [Jesus]” due to His obedience “to the point of death” (Is 50:7; Phil 2:9,8).

The path freely chosen by Jesus is counter-intuitive , difficult, treacherous, and heart-wrenching; yet He insists on seeing through the will of His Father, “to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). In the Garden of Gethsemane, even when Jesus is overcome with sorrow and His disciples choose sleep over friendship and loyalty, He places His entire life and will into His Father’s hands, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39). At that moment, did Jesus know that His final journey on earth would be painful and unbearable beyond imagination? Yet, He still chooses His Father’s will.

After the betrayal and abandonment by His closest friends; after the interrogations, the mockeries, beatings, and tortures by his accusers; after the long road to Golgotha, assisted only by the unwilling Simon of Cyrene; Jesus bears no ill-will against his accusers and torturers. He sets His face like flint, ignores the accusations from the chief priests and elders; He does not turn His face away from Pontius Pilate. In the end, He doesn’t dwell on the jubilation during His final entrance to Jerusalem, nor the physical and emotional pain that accompanies Him to the cross. Rather, He remains focused, resilient, merciful, and kind to the end. When it is time, He turned His gaze towards Heaven and “gave up His spirit” (Mt 27:50). What would have been flashing before Jesus’ eyes at the final moments before His death? I imagine there’d be no regrets, whatsoever, since He has poured Himself out so completely and perfectly in the name of love.

What would we want to see flashing before our eyes in our last moments? If we want to see courage against our accusers, steadfast love and faithfulness in all we do, joy and fulfillment permeate throughout our life, we need to hit the restart button right now. Get up, follow Jesus’ way of the cross, and take courage to say “yes” to God everyday of our life.