Gospel Reflection for March 25, 2018, Passion/Palm Sunday

22 Mar

Scripture Readings: Mark 11.1-10, Isaiah 50.4-7, Philippians 2.6-11, Mark 14.1-15.47

Again the high priest asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am.”  – Mark 14.61-62

A woman breaks open an alabaster jar of costly ointment and pours it on Jesus’ head.  Israel anointed its kings for office by pouring oil on their heads. The woman’s gesture is a prophetic act that, like the words of blessing that welcome Jesus to Jerusalem, identifies him as the messiah.

Jesus affirms that “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Her action anticipates the reason the high priest condemns Jesus. It contrasts sharply with Judas Iscariot’s act of betrayal that happens next.

Artfully the narrative creates an inside and outside scene during Jesus’ trial. Outside in the courtyard of the high priest’s house Peter denies he knows Jesus.  Inside the house Jesus acknowledges he is the messiah. The high priest asks, “Are you the messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus says, “I am.”

Jesus is not alone as he dies on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and other women disciples stand with him at a distance. The passion narrative leaves us in desolation.

Who are we like—the woman who has faith in Jesus; the betrayer; the disciples who flee when Jesus is arrested; Peter, who denies Jesus; the women who stand with him but cannot ease his suffering and anguish; Joseph of Arimathea, who shows up to bury him?


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