Homily preached by Br. Simeon at Blaxland on Sunday 29th March 2015
Sunday 29th March 2015: SUNDAY OF THE PASSION (Palm Sunday) Yr B.
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:27.
Lord, as we remember how Christ the King entered Jerusalem to the sound of joyful shouts, increase our faith and listen to our prayers, so that we may praise you every day, by living always in him. For he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
A young girl became lost in down town London, England. She was from Charing Cross, a section of that great metropolis. She came upon a London policeman, who asked her if she was lost. When he offered to help her find her way home, she replied, “If I can get to the Cross, I can make my way home.” The Cross is the way home to God.
Jesus’ entry into the holy city and his “cleansing” of the temple with the demand that it be a “house of prayer for all people” will bring his clash with the ruling class to a head. In his account of the Passion, Mark portrays the anguish of Jesus who has been totally abandoned by friends and disciples. Mark’s Jesus is resigned to his fate. He makes no response to Judas when he betrays him nor to Pilate during his interrogation (and Pilate makes no effort to save him, as the procurator does in the other three Gospels). As he does throughout his Gospel, Mark pointedly portrays the utter of failure of the disciples to provide any assistance or support to Jesus or to even understand what is happening. The “last” disciple who flees naked into the night when Jesus is arrested is a powerful symbol in Mark’s Gospel of the disciples who left family and friends behind to follow Jesus now leave everything behind to get away from him.
There is a certain incongruity about today’s Palm Sunday liturgy. In Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions -- we carry palm branches and echo the Hosannas (from the Hebrew “God save [us]”) shouted by the people of Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city. But Matthew’s account of the Passion confronts us with the cruelty, injustice and selfishness that lead to the crucifixion of Jesus. We welcome the Christ of victory, the Christ of Palm Sunday -- but we turn away from the Christ of suffering and of the poor, the Christ of Good Friday. These branches of palm are symbols of that incongruity that often exists between the faith we profess on our lips and the faith we profess in our lives.
In his account of the Passion, Mark portrays a Jesus who has been totally abandoned by his disciples and friends. There is no one to defend him, to support him, to speak for him. He endures such a cruel and unjust death alone. Yet, amid the darkness, a light glimmers: The Passion of Jesus should be a reason for hope and a moment of grace for all of us as we seek the reign of God in our own lives -- however lonely and painful our search may be.
The Gospel calls us to take on what Paul calls the “attitude of Christ Jesus” (Reading 1) in his passion and death: to “empty” ourselves of our own interests, fears and needs for the sake of others; to realise how our actions affect them and how our moral and ethical decisions impact the common good; to reach out to heal the hurt and comfort the despairing around us despite our own betrayal; to carry on, with joy and in hope, despite rejection, humiliation and suffering.
In our remembering the events of Holy Week -- from the upper room to Gethsemani, from Pilate’s bench to Golgotha, from the cross to the empty tomb -- Jesus will turn our world and its value system upside down: true authority is found in dedicated service and generosity to others; greatness is centred in humility; the just and loving will be exalted by God in God's time.
Today’s liturgy confronts us with the reality of the cross of Christ: By the cross, we are reconciled to God; by the cross, our lives are transformed in the perfect love of Christ; by the cross, Jesus’ spirit of humility and compassion become a force of hope and re-creation for our desperate world.