Assembly at Corpus Christi School on 17 March 2016
Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy?
We as a population on this planet have been looking for a Saviour.
We are talking about a being whose very existence challenges our own sense of priority in the Universe.
… Can power be innocent? … No-one has asked what he should do – “Go home!”
On 25 March this year, people across the world will have an opportunity to witness an epic battle. Some call it “The Greatest Gladiator Match in the History of the World”. It is a conflict between darkness and light, between a dark figure who fights in shadows and the child who came from above, the Son of El.
Apparently, there’s a movie coming out the same day called “Batman v Superman” but the gladiator match I’m talking about is “Satan v Jesus”.
In the red corner, contending for eternal victory, the prince of Hell, the highest of fallen angels, the father of lies, the accuser of mankind – Satan.
In the blue corner, the carpenter from Capernaum, the Word made flesh, the Son of Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth!
The night before the big match, Satan was seen leaning upon one Judas Iscariot, causing him to reveal the whereabouts of the training camp of the other contender. Meanwhile, after a sharing simple meal with his support team, Jesus was reported to be sweating blood over whether to go through with the matchup at all.
Like any modern sporting match, this one began with sledging designed to undermined the other side. The threat posed by Satan was so formidable that Jesus almost pulled out from the contest altogether. But encouraged by his promoter, Big Daddy, he found the strength to carry on.
Round 0 – and victory goes to Jesus!
It’s the early hours of Friday morning and Jesus has entered the arena. Satan’s chosen tactic for this round is one of his specialities – false accusations. He’s sent in some of his team members to accuse Jesus of blasphemy, terrorism and treason. Oh-oh, the crowd’s turning ugly! They are chanting for Jesus’ blood! The referee’s looking worried. He doesn’t want to do this – but – looks like he’s got no choice – he’s pulling out the red card. Jesus has been sin-binned!
Round 1 is a victory for Satan!
The next round takes us outside the City of Jerusalem, for the endurance race up Mount Calvary. Jesus is laden down with a heavy cross – he is not finding this easy. Oh! He’s fallen! Is this the end of the race? No, he’s up again, but he’s clearly struggling. The match officials are conferring with the team doctor – looks like they are bringing on a substitute! Yes, it’s Simon of Cyrene, taking on the next leg of the endurance race with the Cross of Christ. He doesn’t look happy, he wasn’t even warmed up when the coach picked him, but he’s making a good go of it! Now he’s handing it back to Jesus for the last lap. Jesus is wounded but not derailed by Satan’s efforts. This round is a draw!
The final conflict takes place on the brow of the hill. Jesus is now nailed to a rough cross of wood. This is a test of mental endurance. At any time he can hit the panic button, he can shout out to Big Daddy and the rescue team will get him out of there. But no, it’s not happening. Instead, sounds like he is trying to talk… something about his mother being looked after… being thirsty… and forgiving, yes, forgiving the members of Satan’s team who aren’t making this easy for him. He’s getting weak now… very weak… he’s lost consciousness. They are calling in the team doctor… yes, it’s been confirmed. Jesus has died, yes died on Calvary. That means he won the mental endurance test but is out of the competition, it’s an overall victory for Satan!
Now we’re going to play that sporting clip game called “What Happened Next?”. Turns out Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t the end of the drama. First he went to the realm of the dead, where everyone from Adam and Eve to John the Baptist were waiting for him. Then he burst the bonds of death and shattered the gates of Hell! Following Jesus, all the good souls made a run for heaven, and got in!
Too good to be true? Next Jesus had to come back to earth and open the way to heaven for us. So he took his mortal body and transformed it. He walked through a locked door, if you please, and showed himself to Peter and the gang. Later he ambushed Paul on the road to Damascus and persuaded him to turn his life around.
Most importantly, the review board decided to disqualify Satan for cheating and hand the final victory to Jesus.
Truly in Jesus, we are talking about a being whose very existence challenges our own sense of priority in the Universe. He plays by different rules. Jesus came to show us how to forgive our worst enemies and sacrifice ourselves for the needs of others. If we follow his way, we’ll be on his team! But it’s a demanding way. It requires a tough training regime. Some found it so challenging they told Jesus to go home to where he came from.
What happened on the first Good Friday was nothing less than the Dawn of Mercy. A new age began for the world, in which we no longer had to fear eternal punishment. God wanted to make a way for us to go to heaven. The devil will always accuse us of being unworthy. But if we are on the Lord’s team, we have one foot in heaven already!
This Good Friday, 25 March 2016, and every Good Friday, we are invited to relive this epic drama. Catholic Churches round the world present the story at 3 pm.
Satan v Jesus
The Dawn of Mercy
One showing only ’til next year.