A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Counted among the wicked

Even in today’s world where people seem happy to embrace notoriety as the path to fame, a soiled reputation can be a painfully fearsome thing.

As always, Shakespeare put it well (Othello Act 2, Scene 3): I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.

More recently, there was the former seminarian who rose to the highest levels of American government only to be accused of criminal activity and fall into disrepute. In the end, he was acquitted, but afterward he famously said, "Where do I go to get my reputation back?"

Today we celebrate Good Friday. As Christians, we are familiar with the many terrible things done to our Lord in his final hours. Moviegoers saw these things intensely depicted on the screen in the film The Passion of the Christ. But today’s readings remind us of an element of our Lord’s suffering that perhaps has not been emphasized as much in film or in our own reflections.

As we hear in today’s first reading (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), he “was counted among the wicked.”

In the account of the Passion read today (John 18:1-19:42), Pilate is told “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” And, as we know, Christ is crucified between two criminals.

The sinless man, the only-begotten Son of God himself, was “counted among the wicked”: the king of eternal glory is cast with the reputation of an executed criminal.

And yet, Isaiah says,

...he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

As Christ has done, so we Christians must do.

That is not to say, of course, that you and I will be physically nailed to a cross, yet we know well that each of us, in whatever ways are given to us by God, are called to share in the sufferings of Christ.

Sometimes this is physical suffering, sometimes it is emotional suffering. This we have been told many times.

But sometimes, most especially in today’s world, it may mean that you and I might be “counted among the wicked.”

We have seen this too many times in recent years. We are accused of being just like the terrorists who flew planes into buildings on September 11. Popular singers openly advocate the outlawing of religion. People are threatened with prosecution, even in the “Free World”, simply for expressing their faith.

To be sure, it is important for us to be concerned about our reputations, yet we can never let this concern keep us from doing what is right and saying what is true. We cannot let peer pressure push us into what is evil or keep us from standing up for what we believe.

Contrary to what Shakespeare said, reputation is not the immortal part of ourselves, but rather our soul.

And we would be exceedingly foolish to let fear of losing our reputations cause us to lose our souls.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was counted among the wicked, suffered, died, and rose to eternal life.

May we always be faithful to him in this world, no matter what, so that we may be raised up in the eternity of joy that he prepares for us.