Sunday, April 1, 2012

Passion Sunday Homily by Fr. Matthias Neuman

Readings: Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mk 14:1-15:47

Holy Week plays out symbolically the last week of Jesus’ life. Each day in Holy Week is connected to some event that prepared for Jesus’ passion, death and burial. As the week moves along we will want to focus on those events as part of our common liturgical lectio. That’s what Holy Week is for a monastic community—a common liturgical lectio. We together are reading not a book, but a series of liturgical actions—the washing of the feet, the sharing of a supper, the reading of the Passion account. With each event we reflect on that event for its significance for our own spiritual lives. This is the story of our faith, indeed of our salvation, acted out. In addition to the events the various people in the story have a role in our lectio. Part of our lectio should be our imaginatively identifying with the people in the Holy Week stories. In what way are we like them? What do they have to teach us?

For example, consider ourselves as one of the crowd walking along with Jesus as he enters into the city of Jerusalem. Are we there because we are entertaining wild, enthusiastic hopes about the coming of the Messiah? How often do we give ourselves over to wild, unrealistic hopes? Or maybe we are there because we just go with the crowd? How often do we do that?

Or, consider the woman with the alabaster jar who anoints Jesus’ head. We really don’t know anything of her motives. But anointing Jesus, the guest, is a good thing to do and so she does it. She probably has a pretty good idea of the kinds of criticism she will receive; she knows the people sitting around Jesus. But that doesn’t bother her; she does what needs to be done. How often do we let "fear of others’ criticism" hinder or stop us altogether from doing something that is good? That’s surely a Lenten Lectio.

Let’s turn the last scene around and become one of the criticizers. How often do we see someone doing an action (which in itself may be quite good and worthwhile), but it doesn’t fit in with our views and our preferred ways of doing things. So we criticize that individual....sometimes harshly. We completely forget that it is a good action that’s being done.

This is the kind of liturgical lectio which is our fare for the week. Let’s make good use of it in the days ahead.

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