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Each time I read the passion narrative from St. Mark, this image strikes me as very significant in the arrest of Jesus, “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mk. 14:51-52). In the American expression, this guy takes his life into his hands. Not kidding! But funny as it appears, it shows a contrast between this man’s action, the desperation for life as contrary to that of Jesus -the basic instinct of self-preservation versus the great sacrifice for our salvation. Jesus is walking into his death while the young man is running away from death. Even if that means running off naked, this guy is poised to live. But is he alone in this sense? Is that not how we are wired? Take off first once you perceive danger and then think! Here’s what the very line before this scripture verse says, “And they all left him and fled” (Mk. 14:50). Who exactly is left with Jesus?

We are beginning the great Holy Week which presents a snapshot of the last days and hours of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth. We could recall the words of Fulton Sheen in the book, The Life of Christ, “The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the person of Christ, however, it was his death that was first and his life that was last.”


 In the poem, The Road Not Taken, the American poet Robert Frost narrates, 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

During the passion of Christ, the disciples seem conflicted between two divergent roads: conflicting interests, opposing choices, risking their lives for the master, not taking sides with Roman authorities, running away or daring consequences. What do we see? The last stanza of Frost’s poem says, 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


We all seem to be constantly presented with choices between two roads converging on our journey of faith. There’s an old song about the Christian life that says, “It’s not an easy road, we’re traveling to heaven…Christians are constantly exposed to threats and challenges - cultural, legal, environmental, emotional, and biological forces that make these choices more difficult.


There is a joke about two elderly baseball lovers, good Catholics in their 90s. Their love for baseball made these old buddies wonder if there was baseball in heaven. So, they made a deal that whoever died first would return to tell the surviving player if there was baseball in heaven so the other would know how to navigate. The older guy died first. A few days later, the living friend was saying his prayer in his room when his buddy appeared and said to him, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is baseball in heaven. The bad news is that you are pitching tonight!” Although the guy alive loved baseball so much, he was not ready to pitch that soon. But that is how the game works. Yes, heaven!

How have we done with our Lenten resolutions? Those Lenten promises we made just five weeks ago! To not eat meat, drink coffee, cut down on smoking, avoid talking back, shun gossip, do away with road rage, avoid little lies, not view seductive site, not allow resentful feelings for spouse, not speak disrespectfully, uncharitable sarcasm, careless talks, give up controling attitude, undo pride, etc. Did your two roads converge, and which one was harder?


At the beginning of the Palm Sunday’s liturgy, the crowd quickly flip, shouting, “Crucify him.” Where are those He healed, comforted, taught, and made whole? What about the five thousand whom he fed? Who is left with Jesus? What we see in the passion narrative is humanity’s instability. Most times, it is the reason why Jesus ends up alone. Jesus is abandoned by his friends, his disciples, his followers, and those who benefitted from his ministry, not because they do not know but because it is the easy way out. And they all left him and fled.”


The question can be asked in our time, "If faith puts us in a position to run off naked, what do you think will happen?” Stick with Jesus or take off? Christ is not like us, for “Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). God never abandons us, despite how much we disown him.

That little girl, that bystander, that maid who confronted Peter, is still lurking around. Like Robert Frost says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Faith and culture/society/politics can be “two roads” diverging in the wood of the cross of our lives. Faith is always the tough choice. But the Christian life is never boring. The real Christian thinks more of Christ and less of the self/comfort. Are we not sticking with him to defend our faith?


Jesus gave every drop of his blood for you personally. He didn’t say, “You know this is really hard. Nobody likes my message. They’re going to make fun of me, beat me and kill me. Maybe I will go home and take it easy. Eat a piece of chocolate and deal with this later.” No. That song continues, "No, no, it's not an easy road. But the savior is with us. His presnece gives us joy everyday." He fought all the way through for you. And then said “It is finished.” And He opened the gates of heaven. Picture in your mind the glory of Him passing through the eternal gates and inviting you to fight on. Like Jesus said to Simon and the disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.

Readings: 1st- Is. 50:4-7; 2nd- Phil. 2:6-11; Gospel- Mk.14:1-15:47




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