Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Betrayed by a Friend

Holy Week is arguably the most important and eventful week in the Christian calendar. It is also the most dramatic. Beginning with Palm Sunday, people gather in church clutching beautiful fronds of plaited palm. They joyously and even riotously wave them in the air to welcome the Lord as they recall Jesus' triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. But as the hymn reminds us: "Ride on, ride on in majesty; in lowly pomp, ride on to die..."

And so we are reminded of the purpose of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem... Holy Week proceeds with a sense of momentum and escalating climax as we reach Good Friday and then enter the lull of Holy Saturday before emerging into the noise-some joy of Easter Sunday.

Tomorrow, the Philippines closes down for the Easter commemorations and there is a palpable sense of tension in the air as this year, there are fears of terrorist attacks on churches in Metro Manila. Consequently, some 15,000 policement have been dispatched throughout the city's churches.

Tomorrow is known in some places as 'Spy Wednesday' and thus the Gospel at Mass recounts Judas' betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Some of you may recall how this was dramatically portrayed in Mel Gibson's movie last year. A reviewing of this movie at this time of the year would be amble meditation on the Passion of Jesus the Christ for us... Quite apart from the physical torment of the Lord on the Cross, I imagine the emotional and psychological anguish of being betrayed by one's closest friend. Judas, after all, was in the specially chosen circle of the Twelve, he ate and drank with the Lord, he saw his works and heard him preach. And still this man, misunderstanding perhaps the mission of Christ and having lost faith in him (as portrayed in 'The Miracle Maker') handed him over to the authorities in exchange for money.

I wonder how often we find ourselves in that position, when we betray a person or a cause for money or some similarly inconsequential thing. Or why do some priests and preachers lament when their efforts seem to bear no fruit? The Master himself saw one of his closest betray him in reward for his efforts... Should we expect any more? Indeed any 'success' we then find is a grace and truly only the work of the risen Lord. Non nobis Domine...

On a lighter note, it is worth noting that the name 'Spy Wednesday' is another one of these quaint English names for ecclesiastical events. Another example is Shrove Tuesday for the custom of receiving confession on that day before Lent. 'Shrove' is derived from the Middle English and Latin for 'to write' [one's penance]. On this day it is customary in England to eat pancakes in order to use up the eggs one had before the fasting of Lent which forbade eggs and dairy. Although few people fast in this manner now, many still eat the pancakes. The sacraments themselves had unique names (apart from Shriving): Christening for baptism, Priesting for ordination et al.

As a reflection this Holy week, I offer the words of one of my favourite hymns by Samuel Crossman (1624-1683):

Sometimes they strew his way,
And his sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their king:
Then 'Crucify' is all their breath,
And for his death they thirst and cry.


Anonymous Queenie said...

Hi Paul, I enjoyed reading this post of yours very much...apt reflections for this weekend. And the pancakes! oh how we used to feast in England (of course, we hardly fasted...)

keep writing - we're reading!


6:55 am  

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