18 March 2015

Homily for Fourth Lenten Midweek

on the Passion according to St. Mark:

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you for by your holy cross you have redeemed all the world.  Amen.

Jesus, what was it like for you?  To be dragged in by your own people and renounced and rejected.  To be handed over to the Romans.  To stand before Pilate while your own hurled accusation after accusation upon you.  What was it like for you?

They accused you of being a King, dear Jesus, and a King you owned up to being.  But beyond that, you would not say a word at all.  Pilate was confused by you.  He knew very well that you were not guilty.  He knew very well that you had been delivered up to him out of envy.  He made an effort to let you go, to let you off.  But in the end, he’d rather see an innocent man die than have a riot break out in his province.  Peace at all costs.

What was it like for you, Jesus, to stand there, loving them, and hear them say:  “Crucify!  Crucify Him!  Away with Him!”?  What does it feel like to give your heart so wholly and to have you love rejected?  What was it like for you to hear them set Barabbas free by killing you?  But that was the point, wasn’t it?  You came to set the Barabbases of this world free.  Those who are guilty of murder and rebellion.  We are Barabbas, aren’t we, Jesus?  We are the ones who have rebelled against the Sovereign of this world, we are the ones who handed an innocent man over to be crucified.  We did it.  No other.  We.  And so for us your innocent life is traded.

To Pilate it makes no sense at all.  You don’t even make an attempt to defend or save yourself.  You stand before him in silence.  To the soldiers, you just don’t make any sense either.  They mock you.  They cloth you in royal purple.  They cram that crown of thorns down on your head until your blood flowed free.  They beat you with sticks and spit at you.  They were in a fury to get some rise, some response out of you.  Something.  They wanted to see some sign of hatred and anger.  Something to justify what they were about to do to you.  But you stood still and silent.  You loved them.  You loved us.  You wouldn’t stop loving no matter how terrible the treatment, no matter how undignified the disgrace.

Pilate and the soldiers couldn’t understand.  Neither can we.  How on earth can you go on loving, go on forgiving, go on reaching out to us.  Yet it seems the harder we push you away, the closer you draw to us.  The further we try to get away from you, the nearer you come.

O King and Lover of us all, O Bleeding and Dying Redeemer, O Silent and Suffering Lamb of God, have mercy on us who deserve no mercy.  Grant peace to us who would give you no peace.  Transform us by the vision of Your silent, suffering love, O King of kings!  Amen.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.  Amen.

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