Palm Sunday: The Passion
By Aiya Maston (3/29/15)
When was the last time we heard about Jesus on a Donkey? Peri Natal, Peri Mortem. Came in on a Donkey, going out on a Donkey. Beginnings and endings. Passover. (explain) not passed over.
It begins with Palm Sunday, which we celebrate today, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem and everyone thinks he`s coming to kick out the Romans and bring freedom to the Jews so they lay down Palm branches and shout, "Hosanna — King of the Jews." You can understand why they are so excited because for centuries they have been oppressed and conquered by everybody — the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans. Look at Jerusalem and Palestine today.
Monday – in the temple
Tuesday – predicts his death – lays out the greatest commandment once again, in response to somebody trying to trip him up.
Wednesday -Jesus warns against religious leaders, calling them hypocrites and snakes; From the Mount of Olives, Jesus mourns for Jerusalem's rejection and foreshadows the Temple’s destruction That’s where Lazarus and family lived. The bible mentions he stayed there when he was in Jerusalem.
Maundy Thursday- Passover Seder, not Thanksgiving, not Christmas, the meal of flight, of escape. Not of triumph or safety, just escape. Remember that you have to be ready to go on a moment’s notice.
Do you know who held the seat of honor at the Last Supper? Judas — because God never gives up on us.
Thursday night,late, early Friday morning – Gethsemane – on Olivet, Mount of Olives. Betrayed by Peter and the gang – more about that in the weeks to come as the Lectionary takes us into the book of Acts.
Lectionary ? Arrested, Beaten, (Annas, former Jewish High Priest for 16 years ) The first of EVERYBODY. Hearing before Caiphas. Current Hight Priest and head of the Sanhedron Council. This is the actual government of the Jewish people, recognized by the Romans. That’s a little bit like both Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell agreeing on your unacceptable-ness. And then the Romans.
Friday Morning. Good Friday. A bit of an ironic term. Watch what we do. We keep glossing over the hard parts. It came out OK, so lets concentrate on the result, forget the pain. It probably promotes survival, but I’m not sure if it promotes actually living, being spiritually alive. I think for that we need to take it all in.
Next up, the authorities who all share in the blame. everybody had a chance to be lenient, to take responsibility, to do something besides send him on up the chain. He is imprisoned in Caiphas’ palace. When they reconvene, the whole Sanhedren meets, hears his case, and decides to let Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, where the Temple was, try Jesus. He is famous for saying he found no guilt in Jesus, and Jesus is handed on to Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who had jurisdiction over Galilee. Jesus refused to answer any questions so Herod sent him back to Pilate. He was kind of a hot potato. This also is the basis for the calumny lots of us heard as children, that “the Jews” killed Christ. So back to Pilate, who didn’t want the blame either, and in a political move, washed his hands of responsibility/guilt in the matter.
More torture to try to satisfy the crowd. Maybe they were angry that their sense of being right, or righteous, was challenged. That really sets me off. Jesus is humiliated, given a crown of thorns, made to drag the instrument of his death through the streets. catcalls, spitting. Calvary, the place of the Skull, Golgotha. Some think it was near or at the dump. He’s hung up onto the cross at about 9 in the morning. From then until, 3 pm, he was dying. Mainly with a death like that, one smothers from hanging by the arms. The chest can’t expand. He asks for forgiveness for his trespassers He asks to be rescued. I’m not going to go into the whole story here. We know what happened. at his death, the sun went black, the earth shook, the curtain in the Holy of Holies tore in half. The best promise for the future of the Jews, for humanity, is gone.
It was a bad death. We’ve seen or heard of worse. We humans abuse , humiliate, disrespect, harm, maim, and kill each other in myriad ways. Just having a body, (incarnation – enmeatment) means we can die horribly all by ourselves without any help, or with all the help anybody can give us. It’s the human condition. I’ve been privileged to attend several deaths. It’s a Holy moment.
Passion – to suffer. Not death, but suffering. The thing is, it must be pretty close to suffering to be a human if you are god. or maybe if you’re just human? Incarnation must be important, however uncomfortable it is.
So what is it about passion? Passion is what keeps you going when you want to quit. The people who run the community kitchen have taught me about this. They all want to feed the hungry. They all want to door differently. Their passion for the result keeps them working together, working through their differences. Boards, friendship, marriage, illness, aging. They move past Friday and into Easter Sunday.
Most of our lives are lived in a Saturday kind of space. We don’t know what happened on Holy Saturday. We see the results, we want the outcome, but we don’t know what happened in between. There’s a miracle, a deep mystery in there. We want it. We need it. We yearn for it. We hurt. We try to figure it out, but some things are not figure-out-able. some things just are.
We’re lost. And that’s as it should be. There is no life without death.
The deal is, We know the end of this story- The other deal is, we don’t know the end of OUR story. Stay tuned for next week’s episode.
And now, Go in sorrow, go in sadness, and anger, and hopelessness, and humiliation, and terror, and numbness. Go in the certain knowledge that…