Monday, March 26, 2012

Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, 1 April 2012

Mark 15. 25-39 It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"

1 comment:

  1. When Jesus arrived on the scene and began his ministry the Jews had long been waiting for a superhero god to rescue them from their Roman oppressors. But the homeless man from Nazareth, though he apparently had no shortage of superpowers to heal and cast out demons and he even spoke and taught with authority, the Jewish peasant failed when it came to magically extracting the masses from their afflictions. So it really is not surprising that all who passed by Jesus, including the chief priests and scribes, mocked him and demanded that if indeed he was the King of the Jews he should use his superpowers and save himself. And when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it’s not surprising that other bystanders called for another superhero, Elijah, to intervene.

    What is surprising is this. A Roman centurion, no doubt the very soldier who was responsible for Jesus’ execution, a man with neither connection nor affection for the Temple or the Jewish God, the centurion was the one person in the crowd who recognized God in the presence of the crucified Jesus. The Roman centurion was the first person to see and know and believe the paradox of the cross which he declared when he said of the dead Jesus, “Truly this man was the son of God.”

    I have no idea what convinced him. I like to imagine that it was the dignity with which Jesus faced his accusers and his death. I like to think that somehow Jesus’ courage and composure while facing his dire straits inspired the Roman - the soldier. And, I like to think that Jesus’ plaintive cry to God before giving up his final breath touched the heart of the Roman – the man. I like to think that in that very moment the life giving power of Jesus’ death awoke the real humanity of the Roman centurion and he was resurrected, born a new man with eyes to see God present on earth.

    The surprising thing about this story is the superhero; a homeless man who wandered the Judean countryside loving on people, preaching peace and good will, and praying. The superhero was a man who consented to his life and his death without ever turning away from his God. That tells me a secret about superheroes, they find their strength (their superpowers) in God not in themselves.

    Now the questions I ask myself are these. Am I willing to give up my hope for a quick fix, Divine intervention to save me from all suffering? And, how shall I live in imitation of Jesus finding my will and my way in God, even when I am suffering?