Saturday, April 18, 2009

Only At His Death

Dear Parish Faithful and Friends in Christ,

As Holy and Great Friday gives way to Holy and Great Saturday, and the humiliation of the Cross is about to be transformed in the glory of the Resurrection, here are some final insights into the mystery of the Cross taken from the biblical scholar, Donald Senior, from his excellent book The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark:

"One of the most startling and provocative features of Mark's Gospel is that the true identity of Jesus is acknowledged by a human witness only at his death. "Seeing how he died" the Roman centurion recognizes Jesus as Son of God (15:39). Conversely only in the passion does Jesus seem to accept without hesitation the messianic titles of "Christ" and "Son of the blessed" used in the High Priest's interrogation (14:63). This clarity stands in contrast to preceding parts of the Gospel where Jesus seems to be diffident about reactions to his miracles, where the disciples themselves fail to understand him and his opponents label him as demonic. In short, the true identity of Jesus as God's Son is manifested not in acts of marvelous power but in an event seemingly devoid of any power, his passion and death." (p. 144)

"Therefore the cross stands as a sharp challenge to worldly concepts of what is "powerful" or important. God does not work through the grandeur of human might but through the compassionate and tenacious loving service unto death of the Christ. The Cross in Mark's Gospel stands, therefore, as a challenge to all abusive and oppressive notions of power." (p. 146)

"Mark's death scene redefines what a "Christian death" must look like. To die in faith need not mean peaceful death, or pious decorum. The Markan Jesus struggles in death, crying out to God in a piercing lament, and breathing his last with a scream. Yet the God of Jesus is present even - and especially - in these moments when human dignity seems shredded. No corner of human existence is closed to God's presence. No body is too broken, no spirit so bent that the God of the crucified would recoil from it." (p. 147)

We see that the "wisdom of God" is expressed in the "foolishness of the Cross."

Fr. Steven

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