The Day Jesus Died - Poem by Jordan Legaspi
THE DAY JESUS DIED
A reflection on the passion and death of Jesus
It has been my desire to write a poetic reflection on the passion and death of Jesus. The craft that would imprint my spiritual poverty reflected on my lifestyle -the witnessing which is crippled by a distorted image of what the Christian ideals would really mean.
Nevertheless, the inert feeling of awe and wonder on the account of Jesus Paschal Mystery has shaped my faith to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit since then. Although, the fusion between reason and emotion has left rooms of reservation against the impact of what I received from my highly technical Catechism still it outlined my spirituality -the sense of sacrifice for the others (at least what I always felt) . And the demand of this faith expression lies on the ground of having the sense of purpose in life as far as the foreign mission is concern.
"The Day Jesus Died" is a blue print of my reflection on the different characters that has completed the tragic death of the greatest teacher the world has ever had. Thus, these personalities I believe have spoken realistic faith experience that in its respective accounts mirrors my own rise and fall -confused self actualization: The Denial, The Betrayer, A Close Scrape of Death, The Man Couldn't Find Peace, The Man Couldn't Live With Him, The Man Couldn't Make Up His Mind, The Woman to be Remembered, Carrying the Cross, The Woman at the Distance, The Hesitant Believer, The Soldier and the Final Act, The Criminal Who Missed the Chance which to Jesus of Nazareth that I cannot but fully and perfectly love.
It is worth mentioning here the people that has influenced me directly and indirectly with my spiritual growth and maturity: the Society of Missionaries of Africa that has taught me how to be conscious of my personal needs, the Family of Ignatian Institute of Religious Education Foundation that has given me opportunity to complete my academic training and spiritual formation to articulate better my Christian Faith, the Community of San Pedro College (specially the Arts and Sciences Department) that has geared me to share with the richness of the Philosophy and Discipline of Education, the Campos Ministers of Holy Cross of Davao College whose friendship I shared with is above all else a gift of acceptance and respect, the Missionaries of Corpus Christi that has been supportive on my journey towards spiritual discernment, the core group of Action in Solidarity headed by Brother Miguel Remirez who sighted few points for the completion of this work, and all the individuals that motivate me to continue this ambitious achievement.
I would like also to dedicate this work in memory of my beloved sister, Dovie and brother Dennis.
Peter was there as a witness of Jesus, the carpenter:
-the humility and the steadfast of his heart,
-the sharpness and the clarity of his head,
that moved the friendship, his commitment
Peter was there as an admirer of Jesus, the traveler:
-the sincerity of his concern towards the forgotten,
-the simplicity of his words and deeds;
that shaped the admiration, his allegiance
Peter was there as a spectator of Jesus, the preacher:
-the boldness of his teaching against sin,
-the firmness of his principle in terms of service;
that challenged the expectation, his leadership
Peter was there as an apostle of Jesus, the healer:
-the power of his will that contours nature's force,
-the spirit of his compassion among the many,
that fashioned his apostleship, his loyalty
Peter was there as a close friend of Jesus, the master:
-the radical man who confronts the corruption,
-the spiritual man who challenges the mediocrity
that questioned the ideal truth, his denial.
He was a man of principle
loyalty to his country
fidelity to his religion
He was a man of unique temperament
a witty thief and a cunning rebel
a clever ally
He was a man of high relation
liaison to his sect and brotherhood
friend to rich and influential people
He was a man of high reputation
to hail a leader in Jerusalem
to honor a master in the meal
to introduce a friend in the garden
He was a man of purpose
the conspiracy between him and the elders
the treachery between him and the authority
the strategy between him and the soldiers
He was a man of contrast
between the will and the call
between the reason and the emotion
between the argument and the solution
He was the man of intriguing character
freedom fighter held captive by his aught
achievement oriented failed by his discipline
a man of law killed by his own zeal
He was above all
a friend; a companion; a disciple
of Jesus of Nazareth.
A Close Scrape of Death
Behind the dark room; behind the walls
between politics and religion,
their power confronts its secrets and lies
-the reality of different faces of crime.
Barabbas was inside of this room,
isolated him from what we call righteous people:
-he was a bandit, punishable by law;
-he was a revolutionary figure, enemy of the state;
-he was a villain, dangerous to the people.
While Jesus of Nazareth was outside of this room,
yet alienated from what we call civilized people:
-he was a blasphemous man, crime answerable only to death,
-he was a revolutionary figure, not only to the state,
but to the whole structure of civilization,
-he was a criminal, who betrayed the Jewish fundamentals,
by claiming to be a messiah, and the king.
Behold the two personalities,
the son of Man and the son of Abraham.
It might have been so depressing, so terrifying-
Crucify him! Hang him on the cross!
It might be at the same time confusing-
Relies him! We want him to be free!
Barabbas has to face and receive the sentence of his captors
Jesus had to witness the justice of human judgment
It was like a countdown of which is which:
-for the prosecutor that couldn't find a clue,
-for the accuser that were determined to give the sentence,
-for the accused whose silence was a puzzle,
-for the audience watching but not seeing the whole picture.
Barabbas was the victim of Jesus' trial
to be placed in the scene of Jesus' passion drama.
But the spectator were not ready to cry
they were there to witness a comical tragedy
-the amusement of a bloody fall.
Relies Barabbas! We want him to be free!
Crucify Jesus! Crucify him!
To Barabbas it doesn't matter
why Jesus was putting so much trouble to himself,
for him his free and life be his another concern;
To Jesus it doesn't matter what it was for Barabbas
that he was replaced by him,
for him his death is the example of what he taught them.
The Man Couldn't Find Peace
Name is given unto him:
-the bloodline of influence and power,
-the Jewish emblem of unity,
But unto the eyes of Jesus:
-the corrupt nature that wills to kill,
-the man whose greed is his fill;
Crown is given unto him:
-the king of Galilean province,
-the title he clings on as nobility,
But unto the eyes of Jesus:
-the puppet of the Imperial Rome,
-the malicious lord with his empty throne;
Authority is given unto him:
-the trial against the criminal,
-the pronouncement of brutality,
But unto the eyes of Jesus:
-the ruler who mocks his own ignorance,
-the man compels on his own arrogance.
The Man Couldn't Live With Him
Priesthood is given unto him -
the law of his religion:
whose tongue is holy to utter the word godly,
whose ears is holy to hear the hymn saintly,
whose nose is holy to smell the scent heavenly,
whose hands is holy to offer the gift perfectly,
whose eyes is holy to see the altar of Yahweh
Privilege is given unto him -
the law of his nation:
whose speech is but against Jesus, the blasphemy,
whose silence is but against Jesus, the enemy,
whose breath is but against Jesus, the deadly,
whose touch is but against Jesus, the unholy,
whose sight is but against Jesus, the ungodly
Time is given unto him -
the confrontation between:
whose law is but without mercy,
whose law is but without charity,
whose law is but without room for the ills of the society,
whose law is but without dialogue for maturity,
whose law is but has gone stray from Yahweh.
The Man Couldn't Make Up His Mind
A foreigner but influential
A gentile but a believer
A Roman but not just ordinary citizen
-he was the governor keeping the relation between kingdom and empire
and to ensure the tribute for the glory of Rome
-he was the representative of the emperor to his allies and province
and to watch and to protect the interest of Rome.
Pontius Pilate was the man of authority
-between Herod and Caesar
-between Israel and Rome
-between the commoner and the elite
He was to scale the details and its loopholes
-about the truth and the falsehood
-about the innocence and the guilt
-about the victim and the criminal.
The prime of power was on his hand
The same power that hunted him to his fear
About the trial wrapped with intrigue and malice
About the man from Nazareth
-hailed as the king of the Jews, but ridiculed as folly
-proclaimed as the messiah, but accused of blasphemous celebrity
About the Elders, who disturbed by the silence of this man
But to release the man would mean he denied Caesar
But to kill this man would mean he denied justice
Alas! He has to do something
-to appease the heart of the accuser
-to allow the man to face his fate
-to design an excuse to bring him peace
because still he couldn't make up his mind.
The Woman to be Remembered
She was there with the crowd following him
to be healed from their sickness
to be filled from their hunger
to be entertained from their weariness
But for her, she would like to be at his feet
to listen from what he had to say
to learn from what he had done
And she was there, the witness of this man
-not because he raised the dead to life
but the wisdom behind the death
-not because she was taught the meaning of love
but the experience of being loved
-not because she was attended by this man
but the compassion of this man: to man and woman;
young and old; well and sick; rich and poor;
slave and free; Jew and Gentile alike
In her deep devotion to this man, she had seen the messiah
Who called her -to come out and be his disciple
-not by her expensive ointment, but her commitment and service
Mary of Bethany to Jesus of Nazareth
-is a woman to be remembered.
Carrying the Cross
Simon of Cyrene was to enter Jerusalem
-to visit a family and some of his close keen
-to do his trade and beading
-to see ones more the city of David
-to offer a sacrifice like a pious Jew
Jesus of Nazareth was to leave the holy city
-not because He had visited His family and folk,
but He was rejected and despised by them
-not because He had finished His business,
but it is yet to start
-not because He had seen the power and the wealth of Jerusalem,
but because He had to unveil her corruption and exploitation
-not because He had burned His offering,
but to make the final sacrifice
Simon of Cyrene had to meet Jesus of Nazareth
-not at the moment of His feasting, but on His mourning
-not at the moment of His preaching, but on His silence
-not at the moment of His healing, but on His dying
-not at the moment of His miracle, but on His agony
-not at the moment of His glory, but on His way to his death
Jesus of Nazareth was to pay the heavy prize of love
Simon of Cyrene was to receive the burden of the law
The cross it was called- the meeting of two different worlds'
of Jesus of Nazareth, and
of Simon of Cyrene.
The Woman at the Distance
She might remember that day, that conversation
"give me a drink"
"how is it that you, a Jew ask a drink from a Samaritan woman? "
As her defense against him
And now his own people is killing this ordinary man
While she at the distance sighing, perhaps praying for him
She might remember how bold and wise this man
"go call your husband and come back here"
"I don't have a husband"
As her simple excuse, though exposed her to the truth
"…you have five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband"
And now his friends is laughing at this respectful man
While she at the distance had pitted, maybe crying for him
She might remember how brilliant this man in his spirituality
"believe me, a time is coming when you will not worship the Father
either on this mountain or in Jerusalem"
"I know that the Messiah is coming, whenever He comes,
He will explain everything to us"
As her assurance of what she believe
And now his own Apostles are leaving this holy man
While at the distance, anonymously following him
She might be trembling hearing the shouts and wailing
"cursed unto him, crucify him"
"Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"
As she fills her heart of what that voice lingers
"I am He, the very One who is speaking to you"
While she at the distance calming her confused mind
"come, see a man who told me everything!
Could this be the Christ? "
The Hesitant Believer
He is an ordinary carpenter from Galilee
-to the sick, abused and forgotten manifest mercy
but what is this, maliciously accused by friends but now foe;
To Nicodemus it is confusing and impossible
The man who testify love and service so profoundly
But now a defenseless criminal before the authority
He is the master in Israel, who raised Lazarus
-to the market, synagogue and open places preaches
but what is this, tormented in pain and sorrow;
To Nicodemus it is confusing and impossible
The man who thought him that night about life
But now before him hanging on the tree
He is a teacher, healer, and above all else a believer
-to the law and its tradition is an exemplar
but what is this, death defeats his body and soul;
To Nicodemus it is confusing and impossible
The man whose extraordinary life is but history
and now a cold corpse lies, he failed to save the day.
The Soldier and the Final Act
He might be hearing about Jesus:
-the carpenter who heals around the city and towns,
-the preacher who performs miracles
But what is it for him, a believer but to Zeus
He might be seeing Jesus:
-the ordinary man around the city of Jerusalem,
-the citizen of Israel suppressed by Rome
But what is it for him, a soldier of the governor's
He might be laughing at Jesus:
-the man who claims to be the liberator against the strife,
-the man who proclaims to be the way, truth and life
But what is it for him, an officer of the Caesar's
He might be wondering about Jesus:
-the once hailed leader but despised and insulted,
-the once identified master but betrayed and killed,
But whatever it would mean, he remains forgiving.
The Criminal Who Missed the Chance
From the gate of the great city, Jerusalem
He was wounded with physical pain
But what could it be for him, an identified villain;
While on the same gate another man receive the blame
He was wounded straight into the heart, he was left
But what is it for them; he is an identified victim;
Ha, ha, ha, look at him -the preacher of what he claim truth!
Ha, ha, ha, look at them -the fools marching to their death!
At the foot of the mountain, Golgotha
He was afraid to face his final days
But what he could do but sigh and curse them;
While on the same mountain, another man has to climb
He was grasping for breath to complete his promise
But what is it for; he is a criminal like them
Save yourself messiah, save yourself king!
That is for you brutes, enemy of the law!
On the tree tied and nailed, crucified
He was in distress, angry to himself and to his friends
But what he can do, the eyes of the law is fixed unto him;
While on the same tree another has to claim
He was on the brink of death seeing but only love
But what is it for them; he is a fool that deserves to die
You are the messiah save yourself and us!
You are the son of God show them your power! Call your angels!
Jesus of Nazareth
Through the ages you are acclaimed
But few have understood your message
Fewer still have tried to put into practice
What You've done and preached
Your words have been heard across the globe-
Tribes and nations and tongues and races of men
But many twisted and turned to mean something-
The beyond of what you really mean
Your name has been used and abused
To justify crimes, to frighten people,
To inspire men and women to heroic foolishness
Frequently you've been honored and worshiped
For what you did not mean, than for what you did mean
Your influence is so great-
The turning point of history
Number of peoples fought and died for your sake
Either by conquering or by defending in your name
Crowd followed You all the day of their lives
But in the middle of nowhere confused and finally totally lost
Between faith and religiosity
While the rest breathless still praising Your name
Leaving behind those dying and death consumed...
Because they believe in You.
Holiness is the fusion of man's creativity and of God's priority into making life a prayer from personalization to socialization. The different characters mention in this reflection is an archetype of man and his different attitudes towards life and his vocation, holiness.
Thus, "The Day Jesus Died" is everyday situations of my life. The different realities of life yet anchored to one purpose to constantly loving Jesus. Although, the desire is strong but the principle of loving is at times crippled by lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, avarice, pride, anger, and I would like to add laziness (no time) that denied me of my right to be a man of others -the battle between theory and praxis, between value and vise.
My prayer therefore, through this thirteen characters is to journey back and to reconsider the different pieces of the shaping of my character -both pleasant and unpleasant experiences with myself, with the other self, and even with the nature as physical emblem of God, so as too, to relearn myself and to reclaim my purpose.
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines; Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral
Edition,2010; Claretian Publications, Q.C., Philippines
Philippine Bible Society; The New American Bible,1991;
Catholic Bible Press a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville
The Roman Catholic Translation; edited by the Reverend Henry Wansbrough,
The New Jerusalem Bible,1985; Darton, Longman & Todd and Les Editions Du Cerf
The Gideons International; The Holy Bible,1985; Thomas Nelson, Inc., USA
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