sabato 24 marzo 2018

«Vere homo hic Filius Dei erat»

Today’s liturgy has two sides: at the beginning of the Mass, we have commemorated the Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem; now, during the Mass, we are recalling his sorrowful passion. 

But there is a common thread running through the whole liturgy: Jesus shows himself as the expected Messiah of Israel, the Christ, the king of the Jews. We have heard it in the gospel read before the procession: Jesus is welcomed by the crowds to the Holy City with the acclamation, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.” For the first time people recognize him as the Messiah. And that is precisely the reason why, few days after, Jesus will be arrested, brought to trial and sentenced to death. During the trial before the Sanhedrin, the high priest asks him, “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?” Brought in front of Pilate, this one questions him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” The soldiers salute him with “Hail, King of the Jews.” The inscription of the charge against him, put on the cross, reads, “The King of the Jews.” The leaders of the people at the foot of the cross mock him saying, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”

But, in parallel with this manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah, another, more important, revelation is made while the events take place. When the high priest asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, Jesus answers, “I am.” With this answer Jesus not only confirms that he is the Messiah, but also declares his divinity. “I AM” is the name of God. That is why the high priest tears his garments; and that is why they sentence Jesus to death. Even though they hand Jesus over to Pilate with a political charge (Jesus claims to be the king of the Jews), for them the real motive for condemnation is his blasphemy (he claims to be God). And at the end of the gospel, after the death of Jesus, we find the confirmation of this revelation. The centurion who witnesses Jesus’ death, cries out, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Vere homo hic Filius Dei erat) Not only is Jesus the Messiah of Israel; he is also, and above all, the Son of God.

Before Jesus hanging on the cross, let us prostrate ourselves and recognize in him our King, our Lord, our God.