domingo, 1 de abril de 2012

Sunday of the Passion

April 1, 2012
Isaiah 50:4-7;
Psalm2; Philippians 2:8-9; Mark 14:1-15:47

Mark's Passion isthe oldest
narration of the four Gospels. It contains the most graphic violencebecause it
was the most proximate to the event. As time heals wounds, the other Gospels
lose the intensity of the drama. The Jesus portrayed by Mark is themost human.
He does not have conscious knowledge that he is God or that he willbe redeemed.
He goes to his death trusting in a God who remains silent to hiscries. Jesus
dies alone - even God abandons him. His last words are pleadingcries to God:
"Why have you forsaken me?"
His mission is an apparentfailure. He
trusts in God, who does not show up for him.

A major theme of Mark's Gospel
is thefailure of the closest disciples of Jesus to comprehend that he is the
Messiah.The very first words of the Gospel disclose that "this is the good
news ofJesus Christ, the Son of God." When we encounter the disciples at
the beginning, they are full of energy and commitment when they immediately
leave their livelihoods to follow Jesus. Yet, as Jesus reveals his identity,
theminds and hearts of the disciples get clouded. They are not alone in their hardening
of hearts. Many stories reveal lack of faith as a failure to see andunderstand
in contrast with those who come to see him as the Son of God. TheTwelve, who
should know better, abandon Jesus one by one at the arrestfollowing the Last
Supper, and run away. Even Mark, the Gospel author, writes himself into the
narrative: he too runs away naked when the guards try to seizeand arrest him.
Jesus is left to face his tribulations utterly alone.

However, as the disciples
repeatedly fail, certain women remain faithful. A woman seeks out Jesus at the
house of Simon the leper before the feast of the Passover and the feast of
Unleavened Bread. She pours excessive quantities of costly perfumed oil onto
the head ofJesus as a burial anointing. Jesus makes it clear that her act of
faith will beremembered by future generations.

Mary Magdalene, Salome, and
Mary, themother of James and Joses, watch the crucifixion events from a
distance. They are joined by many other faithful women who come up with him to
Jerusalem. Theireye-witness is key to show that Jesus really dies and is buried
and that they know the place of the burial. They are present when the stone is
rolled against the entrance of the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea, another
believer, acquiresfor him. Our faith is based on the reality that Jesus dies
and is buried.

Not all the men are weak in
their faith; not all the women abide by Jesus. We remember that the women run
away from the empty tomb filled with fear - too afraid to tell anyone. Even
their faith has been rocked. At this point, we come to the original ending of
Mark'sGospel. Jesus dies; the mission fails; the disciples abandon him; even
the women flee in fear. End of story - until we go back to the beginning of the
Gospel and understand that much more has happened as we know the secret – this Jesus
is the Son of God - just as the Roman centurion, a Gentile, testifies.

Since Mark's Gospel is a mere
16 chapters, it is worth reading slowly during Holy Week to get a full view of
theauthor's intentions. When one does this, he or she is able to see the
important nuances in the Passion narratives. Too often, Christians surface skim
the textsto find parallels between the others. To an ordinary reader, the
Passion textsare nearly identical, but when you let the details emerge, the
Gospels reveal profound insights that create new levels of meaning.

I set aside half an hour
before Massto read the Passion narrative slowly. I fix my attention on the
emotions ofeach character so I can experience what they may have felt. Mostly,
I try to understand what Jesus is feeling. I ask him to tell me as I hold what
he says in reverent silence. I simply want to be a friend to him and give him
what heneeds most in suffering - the experience of sharing his story with a
friend. Each year, I am surprised with the deeper emotions he shares with me. I
know Ican never hold all his pain; I just try to be there with him. I don't
know what else to do.

Ignatian Spirituality:Set World Ablaze

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