Palm Sunday, cycle A

Palm Sunday

 

The Gospel: Matthew 26: 14 – 27: 66

Thoughts on the Gospel at the Procession:

In Jesus’ day the Jewish people had hoped that the Messiah would come with military power and might – and that with that power he would free them. But Jesus came and opened a new way. Just as he rode to Jerusalem on a donkey, an ass, a pack animal, rather than arriving with armies and angels, so he opened a new path for the reign of God, the Kingdom of God. He preached about God who cared for the least, who sought the lost and the poor and counted the hairs of one’s head. This God reached out to the Gentiles, the enemies of the Jews and spoke of loving one’s enemies as if it were possible. His idea of the reign of God and how a Messiah might act was incomprehensible to many of the people. This was not the way a messiah ought to act. This could not be God or God’s servant.  (Celebration, April 13, 2002)

What does the word Passion mean for you?

A dictionary says that it means strong emotion and agitation, such as ardent love, eager desire, even rage. It also means intense suffering.  Jesus is the face of God:  “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15)  What do we learn of God in his passion?

Jesus does not want followers who seek after suffering; he does, however, want followers who seek after truth and love and are willing to suffer in order to live this truth and love in their real lives.

Thoughts from Prof. Dr. Joseph Ratzinger’s  (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) Theology of the Cross from his book: Einfuhrung in das Christentum (Introduction to Christianity):

In many devotional books we encounter the idea that Christian faith in the cross is belief in a God whose unforgiving justice demands a human sacrifice – the sacrifice of his own son. This somber and angry God contradicts the Good News of God’s love and makes it unbelievable. Many people picture things this way, but it is false. In the Bible, the cross is not part of a picture of violated rights; the cross is far more the expression of a life which is a ‘being for others.’

This is an appalling picture of God, as one who demanded the slaughter of his own son in order to assuage his anger. Such a concept of God has nothing to do with the New Testament. The New Testament does not say that human beings reconcile God; it says that God reconciles us.

The fact that we are saved ‘through his blood’ (Hebrew 9:12) does not mean that his death is an objective sacrifice . . . In world religions, the notion which dominates is that of the human being making restitution to God in order to win God‘s favor. But in the New Testament the picture is the exact opposite. It is not the human being who goes to God, to bring him a compensatory gift or sacrifice; rather, it is God who comes to human beings with a gift to give us. The cross is not the act of offering satisfaction to an angry God. Rather, it is the expression of the boundless love of God, who undergoes humiliation in order to save us.

Christian worship is not the act of giving something to God; rather, it is the act of allowing ourselves to receive God’s gift, and to let God do this for us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian who died at the hands of the Nazis on April 8, 1945.   In his book The Cost of Discipleship, he talks about cheap grace and costly grace:

Cheap grace is when we look to ourselves for what we have in life.  The blessings we have are taken for granted.  We can do what we want without retribution.  Cheap grace places ourselves in the center.  It is easy.  There is no personal responsibility, unless it is to take credit for the good.  But it is empty.  No, grace was bought at a price in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 6:19-20).  There is more to life than living in cheap grace.

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