Sixth Sunday in Lent (25 March 2018)

Readings: Is 50:4-7; Phil 2: 6-11, Gospel: Mark 14:1 -15:47

Familiarity can make it difficult to concentrate. No reading is more familiar to us than the Passion narrative. One help to focus is to ask: ‘Where am I in this story?’ The fact that we are usually (wrongly) given the ‘crowd’ part in the dramatic reading, and find ourselves crying out ‘crucify him’, may strengthen the idea that we, our sins, have put Jesus on the Cross. This is where we may see ourselves. If we follow this idea through, it leads to an angry, vengeful and punishing God – not the God of Jesus.

Probably the most quoted words of the New Testament are : ‘God so loved
the world that He gave his only-begotten Son’ – gave him not primarily to die on the cross but to share our humanity and to be one in love with us and all of creation. The God behind the Cross, as it were, is a loving, compassionate, generous God.

In one sense, we could see ourselves in the disciples, the women, who are following him, lovingly, struggling to understand what is happening. But we are not really in their shoes either, because we are post-Resurrection disciples and we can never see the Passion and death except in the transforming light of the Resurrection. We are disciples of the Risen One rather than of the Crucified.

At the deepest level and in truth, where we are is on the Cross with Jesus. St Paul so often refers to us as being ‘in Christ’. He tells us that ‘if we die with him, we shall rise with him’. Christ becoming incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, uniting himself completely and intimately with humanity, is not a temporary event or phase but a permanent reality. By our very nature, we are profoundly one with Christ. The Father looking at us sees us ‘in Christ; looking at Christ, sees us.

What is Jesus doing in his Passion and death? His suffering is real. We could say he is taking on himself the very worst that evil, hate and violence can do, and by accepting and absorbing it and responding in love and peace rather than anger and violence, he has taken away its power once and for all. Our response is joy and gratitude.

Sr. Genevieve Mooney OP

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