22 March 2018

Chapel Homily: the Conclusion of the Passion According to St. Mark

Hymn 452: O Perfect Life of Love

Mark 15:21–47

21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

O Lord, have mercy on us. R.

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You for the wood of the holy cross You have redeemed the world.

You’ve been there. Christ’s tomb. Not some visit to a holy site in Jerusalem either. He wasn’t there alone. He took you there with Him when He died and was buried. You were there when you were baptized. Romans 6: “You have been taught that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into his death; in other words, when we were baptised, we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.”

The death in front of us in today’s Passion reading is actually given to you as your very own. Imagine that, being a people with death already behind them, already a thing of the past. And not so that you can devote yourself to all the silly occupations that we tend to give ourselves to before death captures our attention, either our own impending death or the death of someone we love. Have you ever noticed how death is the ultimate Occam’s razor. It makes everything very simple and for the first time lets you see what is, and yet what we’re blind to most of the time.

And so Christ’s death is given you now, you joining in the tomb now, so that you can live as people who have the tomb behind them. Imagine it: a life where you realize with the clarity that only death can give how precious are the persons around you, how utterly unrepeatable they are, not cogs in some giant system, but each a unique gift to be loved and celebrated and welcomed. Imagine it: a life where fear is shrivelling up and dying because it has no death to avoid. Planted into Jesus tomb and sprouting up with him into a life that has no boundary, no limit, no end. You are free like you’ve never been free before.

This is the gift of His passion, His death, His burial. It’s the gift of what you can leave behind in that tomb. He carried in His own body on the tree all your betrayals of love, all your unkind thoughts and words, all your frettings and fumings and fear of the future. He carried it all to death as His. And it stays behind, locked in the tomb. On the other side of the tomb there is Garden, Eden restored, a Brother risen, Father waiting, a welcome, a new life. Jesus your brother who shared your death reaches you now His life to be your own. You are a people who live on the other side of that tomb. Never forget it. The water that puts you into the tomb is also the water raises you with Him into that life forever beyond death itself. Fear not, people loved by God. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. You have already died in Him. You have already been raised in Him. You will meet Him with joy when He comes again. Feast, not fear. Hope, not despair. Light, not darkness. You will find it is all yours because as you shared in His death, so He will share in yours. In your tomb, He will be there, the One beyond death forever to pour over you forgiveness and love, which is life unending.

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You for the wood of the holy cross You have redeemed the world! Amen.

1 comment:

Carl H said...

Romans 6:5 describes being "united with him in a death like his" through baptism. That leads one to ask, "like his" -- in what way?

Romans 6:10 answers, "the death he died he died to sin....So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin...."

When Jesus died, his entanglement with sin came to an end.

In his state of humiliation he had been entangled, but not corrupted. Born into sin, we were entangled and corrupted.

But by baptism we are washed and received. Being washed puts the old life behind; being received lays out a new life ahead as a follower of Jesus. We are disentangled and redirected.

To be dead to sin is to be able to say, "That temptation has no appeal because it is not the way of blessedness as Jesus taught blessedness." Not that we shall never succumb to temptation, but that we aspire above all to fulfill the purposes for which God has shown us mercy, and thus be "alive to God in Christ Jesus". (Romans 6:10)