21 Things We Learn About Destruction
#21ThingsWeLearnAboutDestruction is the podcast for March 25, 2018. If you ever wondered if there was anyone who could understand your hard life, this is the podcast for you. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark14 #Mark15 #GospelofMark #PalmSunday #PassionSunday #PassionofTheChrist #conspired #criticized #betray #abandon #condemn #deny #mock #crucify #spit on #humiliate #kill #SelfSacrifice #Strength #MartinLutherKingJr #PassiveResistance
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 3/25/2018 Palm Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 14:1-15:47.
The genius behind passive resistance, as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, is it reveals evil by giving evil enough space to show its perverse ways. This is why most times, it is best to not try to fight evil and its false logic, but to find a way to let its absurdity show. I am going to list 21 points of the story we just read for Palm/Passion Sunday. A child may call this “Long Gospel Sunday”. They should because this is the main story of God and life. It is also what separates Christianity from every other religion: God serves us.
So, listen to an outline of what we have just read:
- The God of the universe unites his divinity with humanity through Mary. Jesus is born.
- Jesus enters Jerusalem.
- The People cry out, “Hosanna” which means, “Save Us”.
- The leaders conspired to kill him.
- The leaders criticized the anointing of him.
- Judas, one of the inner 12 of his close companions, betrays him.
- Jesus institutes the Eucharist, Holy Communion.
- Jesus predicts he will be deserted. Peter vows his allegiance to death.
- The inner 12, especially the closest 3, are inattentive while he prays.
- Jesus painfully gives his human will over to the Father in Gethsemane.
- Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss as he leads the authorities to arrest Jesus.
- All the disciples abandon Jesus and at his arrest, they flee.
- They take Jesus to the authorities who condemn him for admitting he is the Christ – the one they have been waiting for to save them.
- Peter denies him three times.
- The authorities blindfold him and mock him.
- The authorities hand him over to Pilate who agrees to crucify him out of political expediency.
- Wrongly tried, wrongly convicted of nothing, he is sentenced to death.
- The soldiers acting as police took him into custody. They spit on him, mock and humiliate him by dressing him up for their amusement.
- They put a crown of thorns on his head, nailed his hands and feet to a cross, and killed him, when he was telling the truth and was innocent.
- People who greeted him with “Hosanna” when he came into town are now mocking and humiliating him as he is hanging, gasping for breath, bleeding, and dying on the cross.
- Jesus, at his death, asks why God has forsaken him.
- The faithful and generous came and put him in the tomb.
The words that describe how humanity treats the God-Man are as follows: conspired, criticized, betray, abandon, condemn, deny, mock, crucify, spit on, humiliate, and kill. If you have experienced any of these things at the hands of people who were supposed to love you, support you, work with you, and encourage you, then you have a Savior who knows you better than anyone else.
When the Gospel Writer, St. Mark, writes about the events of the Passion of Jesus Christ, he doesn’t go into how brutal the beatings were. He doesn’t go into the physiology and trauma that are caused by crucifixion and how gory it is. He doesn’t try to shock us. He doesn’t have to. The cruelty with which human beings treat each other is no different. We know what it is. We experience that cruelty every day. By telling the story and relating it as he does, the conviction and death of an innocent God-man who became human to save his people, Mark presents us with the face of evil.
To me, point 13 of my list is the most striking. The leaders of the people (who were waiting for the Messiah) condemn him to death when he comes. It should not be lost that what probably tripped them up was that the Messiah would be God himself. As human beings, we think God is far away, punitive, desiring us to bow down, and sacrifice ourselves for him. Who would have thought that the God of the universe, instead, would come and allow himself to bow down before the authorities of humanity? Who would have thought that the God of the universe would allow himself to go through the conspiracy, criticism, betrayal, abandonment, condemnation, denial, mocking, crucifixion, humiliation, and killing we experience at the hands of humanity every day?
To the person unjustly accused of something by a co-worker, by family, by a friend, by a fellow church member, there is someone who understands you. To the person whose motives are misinterpreted and then used to condemn them, there is someone who understands you. To the person who comes to do something good, but those for whom you are attempting to do something good reject you, there is someone who understands you. To the person whose reputation has been destroyed when you were the one who was doing what was right, there is someone who understands you. To the person who is betrayed by a spouse, a trusted friend, or someone who should not betray you, there is someone who understands you. That someone is Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, we are going to see this week that he is going to take that evil and transform it. The letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 2, tells us that the Lord of the universe is the pioneer of our salvation. He comes to lead us through to the resurrection of the dead. That one, the one who pioneers us to salvation, he became human and suffered because we suffer at the hands of one another.
Who knew that generosity would be hard for human beings? From pre-school to the classroom, to the boardroom, we just can’t grasp the idea of serving one another. Everything becomes an exercise in serving us. The lesson from this week should show how clearly this obsession with doing things for ourselves is at the heart of our troubles. The God of the Universe, who has no reason to do a thing for us, and in fact we think he demands too much of us, came and died for his creation, for us.
On Palm Sunday, we hear the people start the Mass by singing “Hosanna” or “Save us”. Then rather than accept the salvation, they, we, kill the one who comes to save. Isn’t it solely human that we think that true power is displayed in destruction? If we can kill it, we have power over it. If we can sully our opponent, we can prove that she wasn’t so big a deal. If we can undo it for someone else, then we can prove our worth.
Just like the way Bull Connor thought beating and spraying with fire hoses people peacefully protesting on the Edmund Pettis Bridge would show how powerful the authorities were, Jesus will show with the empty tomb how weak and empty it was to kill the Savior of the Universe through crucifixion. By the end of this week, Jesus, the God-man, will show us that true power doesn’t come from serving and satisfying ourselves through displays of destruction and selfishness. True power comes from renewing, recreating, and resurrecting by lowering ourselves to serve others even to the point of death.
Jesus is not like the world. He transforms the world. So. Do. We. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian