March 21, 2008
Good Friday, Cycle A

First Reading: Is. 52:13-53:1-12
Psalm 31
Second Reading: Heb. 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel: Jn. 18:1-19:1-42

Sale! A Healthy, Strong and Handsome Slave for Sale!! Hurry, 30 percent Discount!

A story is told that, “Peter looked out one day from heaven and saw Judas coming towards him. Judas was carrying a small wooden box in his hand. As the usual impatient and inquisitive one, Peter called out and said, “Hei, Judas! Where are you off to?” “I am coming to see you,” replied Judas. Peter reminded Judas saying, “Judas, you know you are a traitor and a betrayer; you sold our Master Jesus and had him crucified. What is it you are carrying in your hand?” “Come and see”, Judas replied. Peter drew near and Judas opened the wooden box and there, inside it, was a cock. Peter asked Judas, “What is this’?” Judas replied, “Peter, have you forgotten?” At that moment, the cock in the box crowed. Peter became quiet and Judas said to him, “Can you now remember? You too are not a good man. I betrayed our Master but you denied him.”

In this story, both Peter and Judas abandoned the one they considered their Master, their friend – their Lord and Saviour. Like Peter and Judas, we also – often times, denounce Jesus in public. We jeer at him as the crowds at his crucifixion. We abuse him and pass him on to the crowd to humiliate him. We misunderstand Jesus, and as such, contribute to his continuous humiliation and disfigurement of his identity in our homes and societies.

Growing from the residue of colonialism and slavery, I interpret the Cross as an “Imperial Tree” where Jesus was sold and executed as a rebel against the Jewish empire. The Cross may be paralleled to an “Imperial Tree” where the recalcitrant slave was lynched by the Slave Master to scare the hell out of the already frightened bystander never to undermine authority but to be responsive and attentive forever to the Master’s rule and law. I am confident that all of us have been “sold” or “executed” at heart by a lover or spouse, or have felt being betrayed sometime and somehow in our life. So now, let us retrace whatever that circumstance was and imagine how Jesus felt when Judas and Peter sold him for 30 pieces of silver or betrayed his trust respectfully. Folks, none of us is exempt from the “sale,” denial or betrayal of Jesus. For some of us the “sale,” denial or betrayal is seeing the Cross as anything but a religious dilemma. Like Peter and Judas, so many of us sell, deny or betray Jesus – doubting some of his teachings by picking and choosing only the portions that suit our life situation or conviction. We discredit Jesus as being anything but a religious dilemma. Regrettably, we create time for everything and anything but for intimacy with God. Folks, our God is worth more than trillions of dollars. So why do we, like Judas, continue to sell Jesus at a 30% discount – 30 pieces of silver less? Here is how. Whenever we feel ashamed to talk about God in our homes, before our relations and others, co-workers or parishioners; whenever we receive him in the Holy Communion without confession, examination of consciousness of our minds; whenever we refuse to pray over food in public places, we sell Jesus at a discount of 30% or 30 pieces of silver less than he is worth. Let’s consider these examples. We all watch athletes and their pride in results or rewards, don’t we? Boxers kiss title belt; soldiers, hunters and snipers kiss their gun after a kill; soccer, hockey, football players kiss their cup, trophies – bronze, silver and gold medals in pride and ecstasy. Beijing Olympics is around the corner and athletes will hoist flags of their respective countries with pride and admiration, because national flags transcend who we are as citizens of a country.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am glad and so proud that we have found time to come to kiss the wood of the Cross in respect and acknowledgement of God’s wonders in our life. I am proud of you all – that you have come to walk with Jesus, not “selling” him at a discount of 30% less, but crediting him with a 30% reward, which would amount to our victory over sin and death, from doing everything and anything less spiritual, less holy and uncharitable towards each other. Instead of “selling” Jesus 30% less, it is my prayer that we would continue to include Jesus 30% more in our live and encounters with all peoples, as we prepare ourselves to participate fully and consciously in the final resurrection, ascension and eternal salvation in the Kingdom!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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