THE TIME HAS COME

Created: Thursday, 01 July 2010 Last Updated: Friday, 07 June 2013

1. The evangelization of Jesus had begun on the edge of the Jewish world, in Galilee, but its destiny was Judea; and within Judea, Jerusalem; and within Jerusalem,  the temple, the apple of Jewish eyes, center of religious, political and economic power. A destiny that is a dangerous commitment. Jeremiah had already said so: “Your sword devoured your prophets like a ravenous lion”  (Jer 2, 30). And also, Jesus: “Jeruselam, Jerusalem, you who kill prophets and stone those sent to you” (Mt 23, 37).

 2. Nevertheless, one had to go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has nothing to fear: “Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king comes, seated upon an  ass’s colt” (Jn 12,15; Za 9,9s). Jesus marches humbly on Jerusalem, pacifically. He does not come like the great ones from this world, in impressive military parade: he does not come with the cars of Efraím nor with the horses of Jerusalem, comes either with arc battle (Za 9.10). He comes without prevailing by the force.

3. The march to Jerusalem finishes in the temple. The temple is stained, must be denounced: it had to be a house of prayer for all the people, but it has become a cave of thieves (Mk 11,17; to see Jr 7,11). The temple must be purified; still more, the temple must be replaced (Jn 2,13.22). The new temple will be constructed in spirit and truth (Jn 4,24), with living stones (1 P 2, 5). Jesus is totally conscious that the hour has arrived (Jn 13,1).

4. The march to the temple determines the trial that follows against Jesus. The high priests and Sanhedrin (a council of 72 old people and scribes) kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus and they did not find it: Finally two came foward who stated, “ This man said: ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuilt it'. The high priest rose and adressed him: ' Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?”. But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “ I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: from now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated to the right of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “ He has blasphemed! What futher need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion ?”. They said in reply, “ He deserves to die!"(Mt 26,59-66).

5. The Jews could not execute anybody (Jn 18, 31). They had their own autonomy, but the Romans controlled the important points: the appointment  of the High Priest, properties of old people and the exercise of the death penalty. Jesus was lead to the prethorium, so that the Roman authority would end the trial. Governor Pontius Pilate did not find him guilty of any crime, (Jn 18,38; Lk 23,22), but there were political motives decisively weighed against him: the Jewish law (Jn 19,7) and the friendship with the Caesar (19,12). Then he delivered him to them to be crucified (19,16). The corruption of the religious order and the political order led jointly to the execution of Jesus. The official cause of the sentence: political subversion. On the cross they put this poster: Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews (19,19).

6. Jesus lives his passion and its death like a baptism: There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! (Lk 12,50). It is said in psalm 69: I have sunk to the depths of the abyss and the the water overwhelms me (Ps 69,3). And also: The insult destroys the heart to me and I become weak. I wait for compassion and there is none (69, 21). Thus it is accomplished in Him what it is written: They have hated me without reason (Jn 15, 25).

7.The attentive disciple perceives in the fulfillment of Scriptures the glory of the Cross. Thus it happens in the division of his garments (19,23-24; Mt 27,35; Mk 15,24; Lk 23,34), in the ridicules of adversaries (Mt 27, 39-44; Mc 15,29-32; Lk 23,35-37) and in the thirst of the crucified (Jn 19,28; Mt 27, 48; Mk 15,36; Lk 23,36). The identification of psalm 22 is simple (to see Ps 22,7-9.16.19).

8. From noon until three in the afternoon it was dark on that region. Towards that hour, Jesus shouted: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27, 46; Mk 15,34). This is not a shout of desperation, but the beginning of psalm 22, the proclamation of the fulfillment of the psalm in everything that was happening. It is a distressing prayer of a just person persecuted to death, but also a prayer of hope: But you, Lord, do not remain far off; my strength, come quickly to my aid (22, 20).

9. They gave him a sponge soaked in vinegar. When Jesus took the vinegar, he said: Everything is fulfilled. And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit (Jn 19, 30). St. Luke adds that he cried out in a loud voice: Father, I commend my spirit into your hands. (Lk 23, 46; to see Ps 31, 6). This way, Jesus descends to the lowest depths that man can reach: to death and a death on the cross (Phil 2, 8).

10. What happened later is proclaimed by Peter the day of Pentecost as the center of the Christian message: Israelites listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God with miracles, prodigies and signs that God did in his manner among you, as you yourselves know. This man, deliver up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the doors of death, because it was imposible for him to be held by it of which we all are witnesses. And raised by the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and he has poured forth what you see and hear (Acts 2, 22-33).

11. The resurrection of Jesus (his victory over death) is inseparable from his ascent (his raising to the right of God) and is intimately united to the mystery of pentecost (the action of the Spirit that gives testimony in His favor). They are  three aspects of a single mystery, the glorification of Jesus. In the liturgy the three corresponding feast days are celebrated in the single context of Easter. In each one of them an important aspect of the Easter mystery of Christ stands out. Christ lives, but he is not risen any more. He is the Lord. We can recognize Him by the gift of the Spirit. The way of Jesus, who goes up to Jerusalem (Lk 9,51; Psalm 47, 6), finishes in ascension (24, 51), the day of Easter. During forty days (Acts 1, 3) the apostles become aware of it. They need a time of preparation (of education, prayer, communal experience of faith) before beginning their mission, with the strength of the Spirit (to see Lk 4.2,14).

       12. Jesus passes from this world to the Father (Jn 13,1). He goes over the clouds of heaven. That is to say, God’s way. In the psalm 68 it  sings: Exalt the rider of the clouds (68,5). He who has descended to the lowest is raised to the highest: He is seated to the right of the Father (Mk 14,62; Ps 110,1). That way, Jesus does not leave our world, but He is present in it in a new way, according to what he said: I am going away and I will come back to you (Jn 14,28). In his ascension, Jesus is not going to a distant place, but he participates in the way that God is present in the world. The Kingdom of God is made on the concrete world in which we live.

     13. In the context of Jewish Passover, Jesus lives his death like a phase, as an exodus: I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before suffering (Lk 22,15). The songs of liberation and thanksgiving that closes the celebration of Jewish Passover (psalms 113-118) acquire then a new meaning. The death of Jesus, in appearance a defeat, is in fact a victory not only for Him, but for  humanity and for the world: The stone that rejected the architects is now the angular stone. The Lord is who has done it. It has been a clear miracle (Ps. 118,22).

 

* Dialogue: Are we also witnesses of all this?