Gospel Procession: Mark 11:1-10
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial: Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:4-71
Passion. The word evokes reckless adventure, impulsive romance, gestures too big to fulfill, and the brief but intense relationship of Romeo and Juliet. This word places Jesus in the tradition of the foolish romantics—an itinerant preacher from the margins schooled by his radical cousin (John the Baptist) and led to make one final, dramatic gesture to get his message out: die as a martyr. But Jesus’ death was unlike the death of many of the martyred faithful to come. His death wasn’t for a cause, but a relationship. You see, God fell hopelessly in love with humanity and inserted Himself to be with his own creation to deliver this message of healing, love and forgiveness. God’s power isn’t the power of Zeus with lightening-bolts from the heavens, but God’s message is now simply “Return; I love you”.
Throughout Holy Scripture, God has struggled and failed many times, just as His people have. It has been an on-and-off-again cosmic love story between the Creator and His creation since humanity was first created and was given a choice not to love God. This dance between Creator and created culminated in His great and final act of love: self-sacrifice on the cross.
Today’s gospel reading recounts this journey to the cross with Jesus as God leading the way, experiencing the pain and abandonment of His creation, the physical pain of a gruesome, ignominious death, giving into the abyss of his own uncreated end---all for love. But in this remarkable journey, he found a few responding with courage: Simon of Cyrene shared some in your suffering, the women who gathered at the food of the cross and stayed there long after the men had scattered for fear of being arrested, the felon who believed because he, of all people, responded to the suffering of an innocent man, and finally the Roman centurion who saw in this suffering man God’s love. This is pretty intense stuff and many would feel much better with “April Fools!”. Rather than struggling to believe, many struggle to disbelieve because God’s affirmation of his creation, of saying “yes” to the cross, is the ultimate folly for a world seeking safety over communion. God as Jesus, crucified, dead and buried. Stay tuned.