Matt ch 26-ch 27
The PASSION OF OUR LORD: PALM SUNDAY
As we read and experience the passion of JEsus this past Sunday, there were a few things that jumped forth from the experience.
There is a lot of darkness that surrounds Jesus' passion, his arrest and condemnation and crucifixion.
Darkness and dysfunction swirl like one of those familiar dust storms I remember from my childhood. We would be playing outside and out of no where a little wind twister would form throwing up dust and it would last a few minutes, spinning wildly.
We would run through them, trying to break them up, afraid they might becoming bigger and bigger. This was our fear as children that the little wind twisters were offsprings of the giant tornados. IT was our job to defeat them while they were young less them take on a greater enormity and significance only to lead to destruction.
Strange I know. But as a youth that was my thinking.
We see that in the passion. Darkness springs up in twister like formation from the beginning to the end of the passion narrative. All the while Jesus is facing them head on. He boldly goes right through them, as if he was trying to stop them from getting our of hand and becoming more destructive than they already were.
He takes all upon himself. This is how Jesus deals with sin and darkness and faces them head on and then eventually he nails them all to the cross.
The opening lines of the passion the gospel of Matthew begins with Judas and his act of betrayal. For 30 pieces of silver the master, his friend, is sold.
Then in the garden we have violence erupt as Jesus prepares himself for surrender. The people around him take up swords and cut off ears. Blood is shed. Jesus halts the violence for he knows his blood alone can stop the pattern of violence form becoming worse and getting out of hand.
Then false testimony and lying rise to front and whip through the trial. Like a dust storm tossing sand into every one's eyes, the truth is covered over and falsehood rises to the front. Lying is every where. We see how harmful these words are, these words that spread rumors and gossip and and extend one lie after another.
Then we encounter mocking and ridiculing of Jesus. He was already down and they continued to beat him. This is so typical. How easy it is to target those who are already down. How easy it is to pick on those who have been picked out.
Then we hear the cock crow and envision Peter denying JEsus three times. If only he would have heeded the words of Jesus, "pray that you may not undergo the test." How often we too have denied Christ in our life in part because we didn't pray, we didn't invest our selves in preparation. Like Peter we buckle under temptation.
Then there is despair as Judas has sorrow for what he has done. He tosses back the money trying to undo what he had done to no avail. It had all been set in motion and there was no turning back. Judas was a scape goat, a pawn, and he realized it too late. So he despairs of God's mercy and hangs himself.
If only he would have trusted the words of his friend. How often did hear Jesus speak about forgiveness and the Father's mercy. If only he would have waited until the third day, then maybe even Judas would have been changed and renewal and restoration could have been part of his journey back.
The one thing that is most evident is the disciples reaction to Jesus. When Jesus need then most an stake them with him to pray as he enters the garden. He gives them one little command: pray and keep watch.
And rather than keep vigil and be attentive and pray with Jesus, they fall asleep. Three times Jesus finds them sleeping. Spiritual laziness. When Jesus lays at their feet and opportunity to deepen their devotion and dedication they sleep through it. Spiritual Laziness rises to the front like ashes stirred in the wind.
We may be able to excuse ourselves from betrayal, or denial, or false testimony, and even despair, but none of us can excuse ourselves from spiritual laziness. We all stand convicted of doing what the disciples do in the garden. So many of us refuse to grow spiritually because it looks like work. We want the path of least resistance. We want the path that is easy. We want it to be accommodating. Like the disciples we put off the invitation God lays at our feet daily.
But not this week. This week we call holy, we must rise to the challenge. W emus dig a little deeper and truly enter wide awake. There is no time like the present to truly dust off our our sloth and become more attentive and focused. We pray a little longer this week. We meditate a little deeper. We fast a little more. We want to be hungry and attentive so that we may enter in and truly be transformed by the liturgies this week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil. We will not abandon the Savior again. We will move forward full speed ahead humbled by the invitation to come and follow after him.
This week we must be different.