The theme today is that Christ is a King of humble suffering love. As we enter Holy Week lets follow him in all the ceremonies through the last supper, the cross of love, and the resurrection. and lets confess any ways we fail this great Lord and Savior.
“Take up your cross and follow me”. Sacrifice for a greater good isn’t promoted as it should be today. So we spend our precious souls in vain pursuits. Passion Sunday should wake us up. Seeing Christ’s suffering should remind us of the deep wisdom of the cross. And that we must work in its power to bring God’s higher love to the dark and fallen earth of dog-eat-dog values.
That’s why Christ’s answer to Pilate is so important: “my kingdom is not of this world”. Even the apostles wanted him to a kind of Hitler, imposing his reign by ruthless power, the world’s way. But that would negate his greatest gift, our freedom. So Christ took the way prescribed by the prophets, that of the humble suffering servant of God and us unto death.
This choice, speaking louder than words of God’s love, should touch the hardest heart. A man in the USA confessed to a murder after seeing Mel Gibson’s film of The Passion. A young person in Kerry coming from the movie said its hard not to pray seeing that. Our response should be love for love; working in Christ to transform a world of greed and violence into his gentle kingdom. And bearing our own crosses with him for the world’s salvation.
And we have God’s with us in all this. For when Christ died in intense mental and physical pain on the cross, God hadn’t abandoned him. Again the Gibson film makes that point well. As Christ dies, a single tear of the Father splashes on the ground, and suddenly all is changed. His triumphant human tormentors slink away on their donkeys, and Satan, who has been in the background, triumphantly gloating over Christ’s torments, is plummeted back to hell. Gibson then switches the scene to the Last Supper and Christ’s words: “this is my body given up for you”. By giving up his body, and even his soul, Christ gained everything. God raised Him up and made him king of heaven and earth. But he was already that on the cross, Our Lord.
Our way to glory is similar, faithfully giving all for the faith and the church. For the universe is God’s, and he handed all authority over it to his Christ at the resurrection. He, in turn, handed that authority to the church at the Ascension: “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world”. How privileged we are to be part of his holy church then. Lets be faithful to it no matter what the world throws at us; the recent papal election reminded us how universal and glorious it is; always throwing up surprises in the Spirit. Through it we should struggle to transform our violent unjust world into the grace-filled kingdom of our crucified king, Christ. And because that risen Lord is with us forever, our final victory in that struggle is assured. For the cruel world of which Satan is lord passes away, as do the inevitable scandals and failures of the church in its human aspects, but the risen Christ, present forever with his holy people is Lord of love, peace, happiness and salvation both for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as the people of the crucified lord in these the end-times of his kingdom come, as foretold by the prophets, lets make our profession of faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
Lets pray in all the coming Holy week ceremonies that the kingdom so wonderfully won by Christ’s cross may transform our world..
That the church, as our holy father prayed, may be the humble suffering servant of God and others like Christ its lord…
For civil leaders that their rule may also be one of service of the people who elected them, especially the weak and vulnerable.
That our youth may follow the example of Jesus’s disciples on the first Palm Sunday and lay their hearts at his feet..
For all gathered here that we may be aware of those who suffer so that they may not carry their cross alone but with our help..
That we too may bear and offer up our sufferings in a Christ-like way for the salvation of the whole world….
And we pray for all in the parish, who have died that the lord may raise them up with himself to the eternal glory of the blessed.
God our father we ask you to listen to the many needs of your people as we offer our prayers through Christ your Son, amen.
The News of the World used to boast, “all human life is here”. Certainly the events of the Passion contain all that’s worst and best of human life. Roman state cruelty, unjust barbaric torture of the innocent, the terrible corruption envy and vindictiveness of Jewish authorities, the heartless betrayal of Christ for money by Judas, the cowardice of Peter and the apostles in abandoning and denying the lord, the cruelty of the mob, the greed of the soldiers as they dice for Christ’s clothes. It shows us ourselves in the raw, and its all still happening. Sophisticated savagery might sum up the terrible wars and genocides of our era. Yet people still say we don’t need redemption. Indeed, many still try to kill Christ by secular imposition. Yet all’s not dark. Though sin pervades the passion so does grace. Despite sin, greed and brutality, God loves us, believes in us, reaches out to us in forgiveness. Lets ask Mother Mary to help us to appreciate that love and stand by the lord in this week’s ceremonies..Hail Mary