A reading of the passion narrative with a reflection for two voices. (Mark 15: 1-47)
This is the story of the passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ according to Mark.
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’
1– Crucify him!
2– Crucify him!
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
1– Pilate thought it was jealousy that moved the chief priests, but wasn’t it just as
much fear? Fear of a new order. Fear that this man was an imposter leading
people astray. Fear that this man was exactly who he said he was. The Messiah,
the son of God, the one who would change everything.
2– Fear creeps in and it poisons the soul. When fear leaves the body it turns to
anger and anger blossoms into hatred. Hatred of those who reveal things to us,
about us, as if they know us even better than we know ourselves. Each time we
give in to fear and to hatred of another person it’s as if were there, shouting all
over again, crucify him!
1– Crucify him!
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
1– It was horrible. It was gruesome and it was sickening, but no one put a stop
to it. Not one. Not pilate. Not the centurion. Not the priests. Not the
disciples. Not his friends. We stood back and we let it happen. At last our
king was being crowned but his crown was heavy and it pierced his very
soul. And we let it happen.
2– Whatever you do to the least of these you do it to me, and whatever you
don’t do for the least of these, you don’t do it to me. Didn’t he say that once?
Is his humiliation still taking place? Are we still letting it happen to the
scapegoats in our world? The ones that we fear, the ones we look down on?
What weight do they bear? What price do they pay?
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’
1– What wondrous love is this? He knew this was going to happen. He sensed it
long ago, we could tell. From that moment up on the mountain with Moses
and Elijah. It was almost as if they’d warned him of what was to come. And
yet here we are. We did this to him, and yet somehow, for some reason, he
chose to be here anyway. He went to the cross, for us. Truly this man was
2– No matter how many times we fall, no matter how many times we turn our
backs on him, no matter how many times we throw away the glorious gifts
we’ve been given, we turn around and he’s always there, bearing the weight
of the world on his shoulders, stretching his arms out wide in the world’s
most loving embrace. “Jesus, how much do you love us?” we ask. This much,
he replies, as his arms are stretched out wide.
There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where the body was laid.
1– It was over and there was nothing left we could do. Three years of following
him. Three years and a lifetime of laughter, of wonder, of fear; of learning
together, of weeping together, of marvelling together. This was the end and
there was nothing left. We were empty inside, but the tomb was full. All the
love the world could bear was stuffed into the tomb with him, so much so
that the stone that covered the door was close to bursting, like a cork out of
a bottle. This was the end.
2– What do we do when hope is stripped away, when love melts from this
world like a candle thrust into the flames? What do we do when God himself
disappears and all we’re left with is the emptiness of the world? What do we
do when we search and we search and we can’t find God? ——— We wait.
Patiently in the dark, by the foot of the cross, we wait. For the return of the
light and the song of creation born again, we wait. For Jesus Christ, the son
of God, we wait.
The Gospel of Christ.