Scripture Readings: Mark 11.1-10; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Mark 14.1-15.47
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” – Mark 11.9
“When it was noon, a darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15.33-34
At every Eucharist we worshippers pray the same ”Holy, Holy, Holy” the people shout in welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem. Jesus is the one who comes in the name of the Holy One and inherits God’s promises to David. He is the messiah, who comes not in military victory but in peace, riding humbly on a colt. In the liturgy of Palm Sunday the welcome turns quickly toward the passion.
In Mark’s narration of Jesus’ passion, most of his disciples flee. Judas betrays Jesus to the officials who want his movement stopped. Peter denies knowing Jesus as he hangs out in the High Priest’s courtyard during the very time the officials condemn Jesus for blasphemy inside the High Priest’s house. Jesus speaks few words as he endures flogging, mocking, and then crucifixion. As he is dying on the cross, Jesus prays from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We feel his desolation.
Jesus is not alone as he dies on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and many other women disciples stand with him at a distance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witness his burial.
The passion leaves us in desolation and loss. Who are we like — the betrayer? The officials who want to stop Jesus threatening their authority? Simon of Cyrene recruited to carry Jesus’ cross? The disciples who flee? Peter who denies that he knows his friend? The women who stand with Jesus at the cross but cannot ease his suffering and anguish? The centurion whose comment, “Truly this man is the Son of God,” could be faith or could be cynical like the bystanders’ comments? Joseph of Arimathea, who shows up to bury Jesus?
In whom do you see yourself in Jesus’ passion narrative?