Passion Sunday A 2011

The controversial theologian Jacques Pohier published a book some years ago entitled, God In Fragments.  He states that our understanding and our experiences of God is rather fragmentary.  According to Pohier, we try to assemble these fragments into some meaning.  With today’s Gospel being so long, I wish to just give you some fragmentary thoughts.

Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives.  This is where King David went as he flees from his son Absolom.  David weeps there when he finds out his own advisor sold him out.  Jesus goes and weeps because he was betrayed by Judas, his own friend.  Like Jesus, we weep over betrayal and loss.

A follower uses a sword to defend Jesus.  Those who live by the sword shall perish by it.  We live by the sword.  We trust in guns or the tanks or bombs more than angels or God.  The weapons in our heart which we use against our neighbor are so often used on us.

The crowd chooses Barabbas.  The name Barabbas means son of the father.  Jesus is the true son and yet another claims his position.  Maybe we make claims that we cannot fulfill.  Perhaps we believe that we can save the world.  Or we believe the claims of others which are not true and only keep us from the truth.

God hangs on the cross.  Not much changes over time.  God is stuck in-between two criminals.  I lack such abasement and humility.  I want the throne and the scepter but his throne is the cross, his crown is thorns, and the scepter is the nails.  I want to be in the company of honest, wealthy, reputable people, but not Jesus who is in the midst of sinners, tax collectors, the sick, and the possessed.

The Jews call for the blood of Jesus to be on them and their children.  They do not know what they ask.  Some use this passage to condemn Jews as forsaken by God, yet it is the blood of Jesus that brings forgiveness.  Even though they do not understand, they ask for salvation.  If the blood of Jesus is on them then they are forgiven, they are washed clean.

Jesus fails completely.  He began full of hopes and dreams but he failed.  Few people listened and acted on his words.  The people he was sent to save rejected his message and killed him.  We too are failures.

The centurion recognizes who Jesus is only after Jesus died.  Maybe we only recognize the greatness of others until it is too late.  The centurion is an outsider but he makes a confession of faith.  Perhaps we exclude other people as outsiders but their confessions of faith can be greater than ours.

The tomb is a sign of death.  There is no hope because the dead do not rise.  As the psalm says, “neither do those who go into the pit await your kindness.”  It is over so we should return to our old way of living.  Or is there another chapter to be written that will change death into a promise of hope?

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