Whose Side Are You On? – Those Who Witnessed the Passion
– by Carlos Mantica
VI. Those Who Were Absent
I know that we respond with disgust at the characters we have found up to now. None of us is one of them. It is always the others who look like them.
And yet there is a group which, in my opinion, is still more contemptible and notorious. This is the group of those who were absent, the great absent ones.
- Those who once followed him and acclaimed him, but are not there today. Some of them out of cowardice, like his closest acquaintances. Others, like the ones he will meet later on in the way to Emmaus, due to disappointment. Christ was not what I expected. He did not do what I wanted him to do. He did not preach what I liked.
- Those who one day proclaimed him as king because he fed them. First three thousand, then five thousand. They are not there anymore.
- The people of the very city of Jerusalem where he will be crucified today, who just the Sunday before had received him with palms – Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! – and who today join the mob to cry out Crucify him, because the tide has changed and it is not wise to take sides with the loser. No doubt many are only following the slogans of the portable carry-on mob that had been operating since seven thirty a.m. in the courtyard of Fortress Antonia, when Jesus was taken there, and which we shall shortly see in action once again by the cross.
- The innumerable ones who had been healed by Jesus, who are today playing the blind, the deaf, the mute, the lame, out of convenience, and who look at Jesus as at a leper.
- Peter, who said, “even if all of them forsake you, I will not,” did not trust his own courage too much, and is not there. James, who together with John had said he could drink the cup. Thomas, who had said when they were approaching Jerusalem, “Let us all go to die with him.” Nicodemus, who always acted in the dark.
I know that Jesus felt in his heart a deeper pain due to all these absences than due to the scourge strikes of the torturers.
Carlos Mantica is a founder of The City of God community (La Cuidad de Dios) in Managua, Nicaragua, and a founding leader of the Sword of the Spirit. He served as president of the Sword of the Spirit between 1991 and 1995. Adapted from the book, From Egghead to Birdhood (hatch or rot as a Christian), © copyright 2001 Carlos Mantica.