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Sep 22nd
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. April 5, 2009 - Sunday Meditation (Again, Who is Jesus for You?)
April 5, 2009 - Sunday Meditation (Again, Who is Jesus for You?) PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - The Daily B.R.E.A.D.
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 03:31
The apostles, the Jewish leaders, the soldiers all did not understand who he was for them. They never knew during these events what he was doing for them. The apostles slept while he prayed his obedient surrender. They fled while he remained faithful.

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 15:1-39 As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered, "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply, "Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?" They shouted again, "Crucify him." Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?" They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him." So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. They knelt before him in homage. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him. They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. They brought him to the place of Golgotha -which is translated Place of the Skull- They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. 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." With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross." Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him. At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "Look, he is calling Elijah." One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink saying, "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down." Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. Here all kneel and pause for a short time. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said,  "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Meditation by Larry Gillick, S.J.  (Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality)

We are praying with great memories in our liturgy. There are scenes of violence, betrayal, surrender, and regret. We pray with the fidelity and trust with which Jesus walks towards his saving death.
We pray as well with the violence within and around us these days. Humanity is suffering from terrible insults to its being in Christ. We pray with our own sense of helplessness, as did his loving mother and even his friends who denied him and abandoned him. We are praying intensely with our desires to be freed again from the slavery of forgetfulness. We pray to remember again who Jesus is saying we all are by his life of faithful trust. We gather together to do the ancient rituals by which we are saved in our times.

We might say that this is an "in your face" liturgy today. The face of the prophet is having his beard plucked. The face of Jesus, as He appears riding on the donkey brings exultant joy to the faces of the welcoming people. The bloody face of Jesus looks into our faces and says something to our hearts and souls.
We have several couplets in our liturgy of this Palm Sunday. There are two parades described in the two Gospels. One parade leads into Jerusalem with Jesus' being welcomed and proclaimed. The other pictures Jesus leaving Jerusalem days later in disgrace and abandoned. The Liturgy of palms and the liturgy of the Passion bespeaks the duality of our human response to God through out history; sometimes we allow him in and other times we push him away. 
There is in the First Reading for the Eucharistic liturgy, a submissive prophetic figure who is given to speak, but suffers for what he knows. In the Gospel, we hear Jesus' not rebelling, not turning back. The words he speaks are of his personal truth and not a defensive refuting. Jesus' words are of handing over: his teachings, his body in the Eucharist, his spirit on the cross. Judas hands him over as well, but refuses to take in that spirit. The reading from Isaiah speaks of innocence and Jesus lives his own way of doing "no harm" while walking through the shame and guilt which surround him.
This is the major contrast then, the gentleness of Jesus colliding with the human resistance to purity and truth. 
The root meaning of the word "innocence" is not "guiltless", but "no harm". This is a prism through which we can watch Jesus while listening to the long narrative of the Passion. He lived and died doing no harm and more positively, doing the infinitely good thing.
How much ink, paint, marble, and glass have been used to attempt to express a theme, a mood, or a presentation of what it all means? We keep the memory alive each time we gather for the Eucharist. We intensify the meaning during this Holy Week which begins with this liturgy. Each conversation Jesus has, each action of his, each event of denial or injury, speaks the same reality. The apostles, the Jewish leaders, the soldiers all did not understand who he was for them. They never knew during these events what he was doing for them. The apostles slept while he prayed his obedient surrender. They fled while he remained faithful. Ah, but here is the comfort for us in it all. For all the art and words, we still do not; can not, fully comprehend the embrace.
We can catch fleeting emotions and ideas about what Jesus' death means, but we have heard it all so often that the embrace can seem more like a handshake or simple nod. There is still some sleeping going on within us as we consider being loved so dearly. There is always the possibility and reality of our denials of his invitations to follow him. What do we do then; with what do we pray during these holy days of our eternal Passover?
We could just rest in the soft comfort of guilt and embarrassing shame; that is too easy and too much of the secular. We can more simply and personally be there and let it all be done onto each one of us again for the first time. We do not have the openness to take it all in at once, but we can allow some part, some word or action to embrace us this year. We can pray by listening to His words about the soldiers and us, not knowing what "we" are doing. We pray also with the words which Jesus thought to Himself, "Forgive them, for they know not what I am doing either." 
One of the prayerful ways to receive Jesus' passion and death these Holy Week days is to consider how we might be at the bedside of a very sick or dying friend. We might want to fetch some water, plump up the pillow, straighten the bed clothing. Eventually the best and only thing we do is to sit there and watch with our memories. These memories may bring us some hope. 
There is not much we can do with the memories which make up this liturgy and this coming week. Praying might be nothing more than staying "awake" to what is being done, offered, and remembered. We know there will be a resurrection, but we know also that we are all invited to join this parade of walking faithfully with our crosses towards our own participation in that same Resurrection.
"Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Phil.2, 8 

Supplementary Reading
Not Junk, but Treasure

"He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." - Ephesians 1:4
Dad's brother, Henry, lived on the family homestead in Iowa. We loved spending time there, where, out in a large field ditch, neighbors would dump their old junk. We children loved digging through it for broken toys, pots, pans, baskets, even costume jewelry. Uncle Henry and Aunt Alberta probably shuddered when we inevitably dragged stuff back to the farmhouse. One time we found a trove of copper pots we recycled for cash, and a jewelry box of rings perfect for young girls playing dress-up. Grandpa (Anthony Schuller) rescued, lovingly cleaned, and repaired most of the toys visiting children played with.

I've often thought how God never sees you or me as junk. He sees the potential, the treasure hidden within. He looks beyond our banged up, bruised souls to the beauties we are when we let him redeem, rescue, and restore us.

* * *
Are there any ways you may be treating yourself like you're a piece of "junk"? Take a look at yourself through God's eyes today and let him remind you why he treasures you. Then ask him to help you learn to treasure yourself.
* * *

Note:  This excerpt was taken from the "Power for Life Daily Devotional
PRAY as if everything depended on HIM. ACT as if everything depended on YOU.

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Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2009 07:39

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