Blue Mountains Franciscan Church, Sermon preached by Br. Andrew Efo on Sunday 9th April 2017 at Maroubra
I chose the shorter Gospel as this week’s reading which contains most of Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, or better known as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. They form the first two days in the Easter Triduum,( Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter). the days which begin the Office of the Holy Cross Written by St Francis of Assisi for this purpose.
Each of our readings slot nicely into place this week giving us great insight into the life of our Saviour. Isaiah’s appears to be prophetic as he speaks Christs own words regarding his ministry through language:- his humble patient listening to the words of the Father which give him the words that come out of his mouth; his suffering at the hand of false witnesses. Of the beating,” I gave my back to those who struck me”. Yet Jesus knew that his vindicator was the Lord God his father.
The Psalm takes up the story of the weeks before the beginning of our gospel when the Romans, Herodian’s and Jews were planning to take Jesus’ life, when from the point of view of the man Jesus his enemies are closing in and friends and family were deserting him to preserve their reputations.
“Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
17 Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD,
for I call on you;
let the wicked be put to shame;” Psalm 31:16,17
‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Matthew 26.39
Paul speaks of the humility with which Christ bore these events and calls on us to develop a Christlike mind. That though he was in the form of God Jesus did not seek to claim his equality but chose to be born as a human being to save us from our sins, and that we, too might rise again from the dead. That to the degree that he humbled himself God raised him on high and gave him the name above every other name.
That upon hearing his very name
“every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God, the Father.” Philippians 2.10,11
Just how do you think we are meant to take these verses? Literally, or Allegorically.
Moving from these rather personal and first person accounts of Jesus inner life preceding his death and resurrection our Gospel seems somewhat descriptive, recorded by the Author Matthew from information gather from documents and perhaps eyewitnesses. Or have we become far too familiar with these events as described that they seem blasé with the happy ever after ending, for the Crucified one.
When Jesus finally appears before Pilate after his Trial by the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, Pilate is astonished when Jesus keeps silent in the face of their questions, Isaiah had written,
7…,and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so, he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53. 7)
Which gives more bite to the plain wording Matthew uses, perhaps he expected, or understood that his readers would recall the words of Isaiah, perhaps the stark and blunt record was meant to darken the spirit of the moment? After his wife had been disturbed by a dream and begged her husband not to have anything to do with this innocent man-
Pilate made some attempt to forestall the death of Jesus by asking them ; according to the custom, which prisoner they would have him release Jesus the Messiah or a notorious thief named Jesus son of Abbas.
We know what happened: – Pilate washed his hands of the affair, Barabbas chosen, Jesus, he handed over to be crucified. And the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ Barabbas was released; and after being flogged Jesus was given up to be crucified.
In watching the next two incidents I have placed each one in their place in a Rosary and as a station of the Cross.
The third Sorrowful Mystery
Jesus, taken by Pilate’s soldiers, is crowned with thorns, blindfolded, spat upon, a twisted crown of thorns and a scarlet cloak placed upon him. A reed in his right hand, they knelt before him and declared “Hail King of the Jews” took the reed and beat him, and when their sport was over they then reclothed, dressed him in a seamless robe and took him away to be crucified.
The eleventh Station of the Cross Jesus is Crucified
I have taken number 11 from the traditional list. The devotion of the Stations is used by the following western denominations Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox parishes.
Simon of Cyrene was compelled under Roman Law to carry Jesus’ Cross after Jesus had fallen for the third time, Simon had no choice -(Mat.5:41)
Reaching the Place of the Skull, Golgotha, – Skull Hill, Jesus was offered wine with gall to drink – a kind of anaesthetic, yet Jesus had said that he would not
drink the fruit of the vine until ‘that day when he drank it new with you in my Father’s kingdom’ (Matt.26;29) Jesus is Crucified and the soldiers gamble for his garments (Psalms 22:18) From St Johns’ Gospel we do know that they did not rend his Tunic because it was woven in one piece without any seams.(John 19:23)(Exodus 28:31-35) – the sign of High Priesthood.
This is Jesus, King of the Jews was nailed above his head. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew (John 19.20)
There is no Dismas (Luke 23,42,43)here, Jesus is reviled by both thieves, heckled by the crowd, his own misunderstood words thrown back in his face, dared to come down from the cross to save himself – if he was the son of God. Mob behaviour we call it, mounting to a crescendo the more they warm to their subject. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Why did His Father abandon Him, who dies on the Cross – another very long sermon. Jesus cried again and breathed his last – chose to die for us for all history everywhere… The veil in the temple that separated People from God was torn in two, God and man are face to face.
The first examples of the Resurrection from the dead, arose in their tombs as the earth was split asunder by earthquake; the Centurion and his companions who were witnesses all said that this was the Son of God – for sure.
All scripture taken from the NRSV
oremus Bible Browser . 2017. oremus Bible Browser . [ONLINE] Available at: http://bible.oremus.org/. [Accessed 10 April 2017].
Image from Good Shepherd Church Town. UN. stations-of-the-cross. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.goodshepherdchurchtown.ie/. [Accessed 10 April 2017].