Supporting actors for Christ, 2

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


THERE could be several nominees for best supporting actors in the last days of Jesus Christ. Why did Pilate allow the crowd to choose between Barabbas and Jesus? The act of Pilate is more puzzling. The drama on choice is a Jewish custom that a prisoner could be released at Passover. Pilate thought that the crowd would release Jesus because he is popular and charismatic.

Barabbas fought and killed someone in anti-Roman insurrection in Jerusalem. The chief priests stirred up the crowd for the release of Barabbas and for the condemnation of Jesus. (So, the priests are tough.) Jesus would want to prove that he is a man. (Napoles is also tormented. She got all the pains, real and imaginary. She is given two options, just like the Jews in the time of Christ. She could plead guilty or become state witness.)

Christ died sometime between A.D. 26 and 36 because those are the years that Pilate served as governor of Judea. He was crucified on a Friday, and his body should be removed from the cross before sundown. The movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ” would offer a different biblical interpretation. Christ as man was given two options by his Father. (Just review the movie and make your conclusion. I don’t want that the devotees will squeeze my neck again.

Friday sundown marks the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. Astronomers give four possible years for the death of Jesus: A.D. 27, 30, 33 or 34 with many favoring A.D. 30, when Jesus probably would have been in his mid-thirties. The man Jesus was executed in Golgotha, a Semitic word that means skull or place of skull (translated into Latin as “calvaria”).

Did Jesus, the man, agonize on the cross? According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was raised at the third hour (9 a.m.) and uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last shortly after the ninth hour (3 p.m.). Jesus died that fast (only six hours). Someone who suffered this kind of execution lingered in excruciating pain for two or three days.

Who were there in Golgotha completing the cast? Many were there . . . chief priests, scribes, the elders, the OZs (passersby and bystanders, soldiers, women of Galilee). The prominent characters are Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), Mama Mary, John (the beloved), Joseph of Arimathea, Simon of Cyrene.

Why should Jesus die? Paul said that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb offered by God himself (bloody God); and in Letter to Hebrews, Jesus was portrayed as high priest who offered himself (hero image). It could have been based on the practice of redeeming or ransoming slaves and prisoners of war. (Jesus death is the price paid for human freedoms from sin.)

Mark is a witness to what Jesus said, “I come not to be served but to serve, and give my life as a ransom to many.” If we have to follow the New Testament, it was a great plan of God that had to be carried out. God did not only raise Jesus from the dead but exalted him to heaven. Luke has a report that Jesus made two ascensions, once at the end of his gospel, where it takes place on the same day of his resurrection, and again at the beginning of Acts, where he places it 40 days later. Ask your parish priest or pastor to explain this.

The ascension of Jesus is also mentioned in Chapter 16 of Mark’s Gospel and in Psalm 110. The Gospel of Matthew ends not with a visible ascension, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Is Jesus still with us? Has he not left the world?) Dates and events we are celebrating in connection with our belief sometimes coincide with pagan practice.

The date appointed as Easter Day commemorating the resurrection of Christ has similarity (if not adopted) with the pagan mythical celebration of Attis’ resurrection. Attis was said to have self-mutilated, died and resurrected. Easter Day is also similar with the pagan celebration of the spring equinox. This was celebrated as the sun’s resurrection and return to prominence. The early pagan had celebrated this date for their gods such as the Babylonian’s Adonis, the Greek’s Apollo, and the Roman’s Attis.

The vernal equinox bonfires, which were originally prohibited by the Church were later incorporated into the official liturgy by the ninth century. The fertility symbols associated with spring were adopted by the Church and they found their way into the Christian practice of honoring the rabbit for its prolific offspring (contrary to RH Law), and the symbolic egg which turned into the practice of the egg hunt.

Those adaptations in culture and pagan practices (maybe) make our own present belief colorful. The Holy Bible where the words of God are can always inspire us to morality. It is us who make reality with what we do to our life. We constitute the group of actors that continue the life of Christ in redeeming our own selves. We all want to see the living Christ in us. Be your own Christ.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 15, 2014.

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