At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:10 – 11
Everlasting God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your son to take our nature and to suffer death upon the cross; in your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
- Isaiah 50:4 – 98
- Psalm 31:9 – 18
- Philippians 2:5 – 11
- Luke 22: 14 – 23:56
- Isaiah 65:17 – 25
- Hymn to risen Christ
- Acts 10:34 – 43
- Luke 24:1 – 12
Throughout his gospel, Luke’s Jesus has preached the joy of humble servant hood. In his final hours, Jesus exhibits that same great generosity, forgiving spirit and abandonment for the sake of others. Only in Luke’s account of the Passion as Jesus healed the severed ear of the high priest’s servant. He does not rebuke his disciples for falling asleep during the garden watch. He urges the woman of Jerusalem not to be concerned for him but for themselves: if such injustice can fall the innocent Jesus (the “green wood”), what horrors await in unrepentant (“dry”) Jerusalem? At the place of the Skull, Jesus crucifixion becomes an occasion for divine forgiveness: he prays that God will forgive his executioners and promises paradise to the penitent thief crucified with him. Even Jesus’s final words on the cross are not words of abandonment but of hope: Luke’s Crucified to does not cry out Psalm 22 (as he does in Matthew and Mark’s narrative) but praise Psalm 31:5 – 6 “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke’s Jesus is the suffering servant whose death for the sake of humanity will be exalted in the Resurrection 3 days hence.
There is a certain incongruity about today’s palm Sunday liturgy. We began with a sense of celebration – we carry palm branches and echo the hosannas (from the Hebrew “God save[us]”) shattered by the people of Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city. But Luke’s account of the Passion confronts us with the cruelty, injustice and selflessness that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. We welcome the Christ of victory, the Christ of Palm Sunday, but we turn away from the Christ of suffering and of the poor, the Christ of Good Friday. These branches of palm are symbols of that incongruity that often exists when the faith we profess on our lips and the faith we profess in our lives.
Luke portrays, in his account of Jesus’s death, a Christ of extraordinary compassion and love, who forgives those who betray and destroy him who consoles those who grieve for him, whose final breath of comfort and hope to a condemned criminal who seeks reconciliation with God. The broken yet life-giving body of the crucified Jesus calls us to embrace that same “attitude” of Christ, that we may bring the same healing, reconciliation and hope to all the broken members of his body.
The gospel calls us to take on what Paul calls the “attitude of Christ Jesus” (Reading 1) in his passion and death “empty’ ourselves of our own interests, fears and needs for the sake of others, to realise how our actions affect them and how our moral and ethical decisions impact the common good, to reach out to heal the hurt and comfort the despairing around us despite our own betrayal: to carry on, with joy and in hope, despite rejection, humiliation and suffering.
In our remembering the events of holy week, Jesus will turn our words and its value system upside down: true authority is found in dedicated service and generosity to others: greatness is centred in humility: the just and loving will be exalted by God in God’s time.
Today’s liturgy confronts us with the reality of the cross of Christ: by the cross we are reconciled to God: by the cross that, our lives are transformed into the perfect love of Christ: by the cross, Jesus spirit of humility and compassion become a force of hope and re-creation for our desperate world. © Connections/media Works