Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on why St. Mark would include a story about a young man escaping by leaving his clothing in the hands of the guards coming to arrest Jesus.  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for Palm Passion Sunday and send us a comment . Please read Mark 14:43-52.

{mp3}B 24 2012 Palm Passion Sunday{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/1/2012, Palm Passion Sunday.

Please pause this audio and read Mark 14.43-52.
When my children were little, they entered a reading contest at the Library.  Caleb’s program, because he was the oldest, was to read as many pages as possible.  He, at the time, had really gotten into the “Box Car Mystery” series.  During that summer, Sandi, my wife, asked me to take some books to the library that were due.  So, I obliged.  Later that night, when Caleb was getting ready for bed he went to get his book and it was nowhere to be found.  So, Sandi and I pulled out our lecture book to lecture # 325 about being responsible with library books.
    Caleb had to find something he really didn’t feel like reading and we went to bed annoyed.  It wasn’t until Sandi and I dropped some things off at the library later the next week that Sandi was able to check the book Caleb wanted to read again.
    When we got the book, it had the same return date that was in the previous book that Caleb had begun to read.  The book had the same smudges that the previous book of the same title had.  It didn’t take long at all for us to realize that Mom and Dad had put the previous book in the stack that I had taken back to the library.  Caleb’s forgetfulness was really Mom and Dad’s boneheadedness.
    Caleb used to have a little sign he found at a garage sale in his room.  It read, “When I am right no one remembers.  When I am wrong no one forgets!”  How true it was.  An apology was in order.
    When I planned the message for today, I thought that this young man in the passage was really the angel who was to later encounter the women going to the tomb.  So, I went on an angel research spree.  When I went to read the passages about angels, God whispered in my ear, “You are wrong.”
    It seems that most commentaries are too afraid to speculate why Mark wrote about this naked young man fleeing from the scene of Jesus’ arrest.  But, if we were to think this thing through, the adding of the naked young man does point to some things that I think can speak to us today.
    The first thing we need to consider is that among the Gospels, St. Mark writes the fewest number of stories about Jesus.  Yet, when St. Mark does write about Jesus he writes the longest accounts.  He includes details such as Jesus laying calmly on the pillow in the boat as the waves and the wind are crashing around him.  This detail can be classified as one of those.  My New Testament professor, Dr. Mickey Efird used to say about these details by the gospel writer, “Well, thank you, Mark!”
    Secondly, let’s keep this scene in its context.  Jesus has just told us in Chapter Thirteen that we will know the day and age when the Temple will be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.  He says that we will know this will happen when the disciples will “Be betrayed to councils; beaten in synogogues; stand before governors and kings because of [him]…but [they are] not [to] worry beforehand what [they] are to say; but [they are] to say whatever is given [them] at that time, for it is not [they] who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”
    Here  we have Judas betraying him to the Jerusalem Council.  He will then be beaten in the synagogue and will stand before the governor Pontius Pilate and the Holy Spirit will give him the words to say.  The time for the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple is right after Jesus prophecies that it will happen.  Unfortunately, none of his disciples understand that the prophecy they just heard is being fulfilled before their eyes.
    The disciples cannot see past the clubs and swords of those who come to take him away.  As we see all throughout the Gospel of Mark, those who follow Jesus have no understanding of what is happening around them.  They cannot see themselves as part of salvation history. They cannot see themselves being called to faithfulness.  The worldly circumstances blind them and they run away.  They run even if they have to leave their clothes behind and bear the embarrassing circumstances of bare-ly escaping.
    What we have her is no angel of God who is introduced so that we can see him in his glory at the tomb.  What we have is a disciple who, at the moment of truth, flees so that he doesn’t have to bear the same fate as the one who will die for his sins.  How many of us have done that?  How many opportunities have we passed up to witness to the truthfulness of the Gospel because we would stand to lose something for it?
    In the third century there was a great man who is credited with writing the third clause of the Nicene Creed that goes,
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.
His name is Gregory Nazianzen.  He was a priest during a time when heretical bishops and clergy were in the Churches and they were mean spirited toward him.  To that he writes that  his forgiveness is not to be compared to the way in which Christ blessed those who persecuted him he writes
Even if one flees in a linen sheet, Christ will defend him…Let all the acts of one that loves men be loving as we were all the sufferings of Christ, to which we could add nothing greater than when God even died for us…
    So the lesson here is that even for those of us who fail the Lord, he offers forgiveness which moves us to act differently.  His forgiveness is greater than a little boy who gladly forgives his parents for their slight.  Even for the young man who would flee at danger when the Lord is with him, Jesus goes to the cross. What makes you think that there is no forgiveness for you?  Whatever it is that you have done to fail the Lord, you are forgiven by him in the Crucifixion, Resurrection and especially in the sacrament of Penance.
    Like those who failed the Lord at his trial and death who went on to testify to his name so that you could believe and have eternal life, let this kindness of God move you to live a more dedicated life.  Get on your knees now and confess your sins in silence.  Know that Jesus died to give forgiveness.  He is one who does not dessert those who dessert him.  Go and live a more dedicated life. Amen? Amen.
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