Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord April 9, 2017
Isaiah 50, 4-7 + Psalm 22 + Philippians 2, 6-11 + Matthew 26, 14- 27, 66
St Joseph Church, Union City, OK
I had a dream that it was the end of time. Billions of people were assembled on a great plain before the throne of God, waiting to be judged. Some were fearful but others were angry. A woman said, “How can God judge us? What does God know about suffering? We endured terror, beatings, torture, death.” Then she pulled up her sleeve to show tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp on her arm. Then a black man lowered his collar to show an ugly rope burn around his neck. “What about this?” he asked. “Lynched for no crime except for being black. We have suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, toiled till only death gave us release.”
Next a girl with the word “illegitimate” stamped on her forehead said, “To endure my stigma was beyond, beyond…” and her voice trailed off to be taken up by others. All had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering God had permitted during their lives on earth. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping, no fear, no hunger, no hatred. What did God know about human suffering?
They decided that God should be sentenced to live on earth – as a man. But because he was God, they would set certain safeguards to be sure he could not use his divine powers to help himself. Let him be born as Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted so that none will know who is really his father. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think he is out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his dearest friends. Let him be indicted on false charges, tried before a prejudiced jury, convicted by a cowardly judge. At last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone, completely abandoned by every living thing. Let him be tortured and mocked. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to very it.
As each portion of the sentence was announced, loud murmurs of approval went up from the great throng of people assembled. When they had finished pronouncing sentence, a long silence ensued. No one uttered a word. No one moved. For suddenly all knew . God had already served his sentence.
Our God came to live among us. Put God on trial is you will. Shake your fist at him, spit in his face, scourge him and finally crucify him. What does it matter? It’s already been done to him. It is a great comfort for us to know that Christ, the innocent and sinless one, has gone down the road of suffering before us, and gone down it to the end. On the cross, he gathered up all human pain and made it his own. Though the road of suffering is narrow and difficult, it is not the same since Christ travelled it. A bright light illuminates it. And even though it leads to Calvary, it does not end there. It ends at Easter. Let’s get ready to go there this week.