Bottom line: On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment - separation from God. But in the end he gave a loud cry - a shout of victory.
Welcome to Holy Week. Today we received a palm branch - in memory of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then, in terrible contrast, we heard about the betrayal of Jesus, his humiliation by public scourging and then...the cross.
Those standing near the cross heard these words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" That plea affected them so deeply that they remembered the words in Jesus' own language, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabacthani?" Christians throughout the centuries have puzzled about these words: How could Jesus - who is God - feel abandoned by God? Dietrich Bonhoeffer - a Christian pastor imprisoned and executed by the Nazis - wrote about the reality of Jesus' desolation on the cross.* Jesus took upon himself our sins and he experienced the worst consequence of sin: separation from God.
When we feel desolate, abandoned, defeated - when we wonder where God is - that is the moment to come to Jesus, come to the cross.
When we come to Jesus, feeling abandoned, something unexpected happens. We see it in the Gospel: After expressing abandonment, we hear that "Jesus gave a loud cry." Many Scripture scholars see this as a cry of triumph. William Barclay points out that St. John's Gospel (as we will hear this Friday) Jesus cries out, "It is finished." In English three words - "It is finished" - but in Greek one word, "Finished!" Jesus' loud cry is a shout of victory.**
At the beginning of Mass, you received a victory symbol - the palm branch. Please take home the blessed palm. Place it behind a crucifix as a sign that if we embrace the cross we will triumph - not because our own strength and cleverness - but because of Jesus' Resurrection.
Next weekend we begin a fifty day celebration of Jesus' Resurrection. I especially invite you to the Easter Vigil. I also encourage you to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper and the Good Friday veneration of the Cross.
On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment - separation from God. But in the end he gave a loud cry - a shout of victory. Amen.
*For a fresh look at Bonhoeffer's life, his years in Jim Crow America and Nazi Germany - and his struggle for soul the Chistianity in Europe, I recommend Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.
**See The Gospel of Mark (New Daily Study Bible) by William Barclay
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Parish Picture Album
Laetare Sunday: the old & the new (March 2012)
Al Kresta at Rally for Religious Freedom: "We want this to be an enduring victory for American religious liberty...The way we ensure this does not become a political tempest in a teapot: Psalm 51 'Create in me a clean heart, O God..."
Please take time to read what our bishops are saying about Religious Liberty & Conscience Protection
The Archdiocese of Seattle also has helpful resources regarding the defense of marriage and family
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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