#TheSpectacle is the podcast for April 14, 2019, Palm/Passion Sunday. Why are we surprised by evil in the Church? The events leading up to Jesus on Palm Sunday show us that even he had his betrayers. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke22 #Luke23 #PalmSunday #PassionSunday #Spectacle #Gawkers #Deserters #Remorse #HolyWeek #Crowd
Full Text of Podcast, Lisen Here (For Our Deaf and H/H Brethren)
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/14/2019, Palm Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 22:14-23:56.
The mood when we sit down after the reading of the Crucifixion of Jesus is much different than when we enter the church waving our palm branches and singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” or “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” or the other classic Palm Sunday hymns. As a crowd, we gather to remember these events as we begin the most holy time of the year. As a crowd, we think of how Jesus was betrayed by not only Judas, but also Peter and everyone. As a group, the leaders arrest Jesus. As a group, they bring him to Pilate and then to Herod. As a group, they call out for him to be killed. As a group, they beat him. They strip him. They mock him. They pound nails through his hands and feet. They hang him high to suffocate and choke on his own blood.
It is such a spectacle of jealousy, hatred, and irony. Usually, as a group, we gather to observe spectacles. Now, we can, as individuals, gather as a group to watch heinous things through our “likes,” “clicks,” and “shares” of social media. It is still as a group, we will watch the demise of others as if it is entertainment. It was interesting to me that others stood at the foot of the Cross to ‘observe the spectacle’, as it says in the Greek text, that there is a stark contrast.
As the God of the Universe, the one through whom all things were created, the Word of God, who is God, who condescended to become one of us is brutalized, humans simply watched as if he were entertainment. He didn’t insist that we rise up to his level to be loved or accepted. Instead, he came down to us. He walked our walk, talked our talk, lived our life, but more. He lived and spoke the truth. But, the people of Truth didn’t want the Truth. They wanted their own supremacy. So, as the One who came to save us was unspeakably tried when the public authorities insisted he “did no crime,” the leaders of those who were supposed to embrace him killed him.
Even more, those who followed him betrayed him, denied him, and then “watched from a distance.” As he came to save us, no one, not one, lifted a finger to save him. The political authorities gave the people what they wanted. The people only felt remorse after the deed was done.
Look at all he did in those few short days: he left us the meal with which we can commune with him. He went to the Garden and said ‘yes’ to God’s will even when the results of which caused him so much anguish that he sweat blood. He reversed the moment in the Garden of Eden where humanity refused to obey God so that they could have ‘more knowledge’. He took upon himself, our sins. He paid the price in his own death for those sins. He gave us a pathway to heaven through Baptism into him. He stayed silent in the face of the blustering evil of the world. He allowed himself to be beaten savagely and sacrificed for the sins of the world. He transformed their foolish power into what God needed to save even them.
So, before we start the party for the Resurrection, Palm Passion Sunday is a good and stark reminder that Jesus paid the price for the party in cold blood. This is critically important to our faith, mainly because without this, our sins would not be forgiven, forever, for all time. Yet, it is critically important for other reasons:
Christianity is not about self-help. It is about God’s help. It is not about positive thinking. It is about facing reality. It is not about escaping pain and suffering. It is about transformation of the suffering. It is not about giving us what we want, when we want, and how we want. It is about transformation. It is about changing us into who we should be. We have the hindsight of knowing what the outcome is and we know this sadness will be transformed into joy. Christianity is about transformation from sin to life, death to resurrection, crucifixion to empty tomb, good earth to perfect heaven and earth. The question, is, what is our response to this amazing self-less offering on the Cross?
In the preparation for this homily, I thought a lot about the people who stood by for public lynchings in the South when they knew it was wrong. I thought of those who went along with Nazism when the Jews were being slaughtered. I thought of how we looked the other way in Yemen while people were being senselessly killed. Or, how we see someone’s career getting hijacked or snuffed out through smear campaigns at work, or a child being ostracized on the playground for something they did not do, or family members who are made the scapegoat in a family’s way of doing things when they really are the nicest one of that group.
All the while these things happen, we just watch. “It’s a shame that Dotty is getting fired for that.” “It is a shame that the Jews are being killed in Germany, but we have enough immigrants in this country.” We actually denied Jews entrance into the U.S. when we knew they were being killed. “It is such a shame that Jamal is being treated so badly by his family, but I really don’t want to move my craft room.”
In this holiest of weeks, when we will be remembering and reliving the events that have saved us from our sins, cleansed us, and given us the sure and certain hope that we will rise again with Christ on the last day to the new heaven and new earth, it is good for us to ask ourselves why we are Christians. Is there any way possible that we are Christians to observe the car accident on the curve that we know is dangerous? Are we simply spectators looking at the Spectacle? Are we those who take from the spectacle what we want, but leave the hard truth and transformation behind? Are we those who are close up and beat our breast and shake our heads after the events occurred? Are we those who declared our allegiance but then deny him through our actions? Are we those who, after following, stand at a distance when the bad things go down? Are we those who are nailed with him to that Cross? Who are we in this story?
Let Holy Week begin. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2019.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian