The supreme gesture
Jesus did not discount the possibility of a violent end. He was not naïve. He knew what he was risking as he kept insisting on the project of God’s kingdom. One could not seek so radically a dignified life for the “poor” and the “sinners” without provoking the reaction of those who were not interested in any change.
Jesus is certainly not suicidal. He is not looking for crucifixion. He never wanted suffering either for others or for himself. His whole life has been dedicated to combating suffering wherever he found it: in sickness, injustices, sin or despair. That is why he does not chase death, but he does not turn back either.
He will keep welcoming sinners and the excluded, though such action may be irritating at the temple. If they end up condemning him, he will die as another delinquent and excluded person, but his death will confirm what his whole life has been about: complete trust in a God who does not exclude anyone from forgiveness.
He will keep announcing God’s love for the least, identifying himself with the poorest and most despised in the empire, no matter how much bothersome it may be in the surroundings close to the Roman governor. If one day they execute him condemned to the torture of the cross, a punishment reserved for slaves, he will die as a despicable slave also, but his death will forever seal his faithfulness to the God who is the defender of victims.
Full of God’s love, he will keep offering “salvation” to those who suffer evil and sickness: he will give “welcome” to those who are excluded by society and religion; he will give as gift God’s gratuitous “forgiveness” to sinners and to people who are lost, those incapable of returning to his friendship. This saving attitude that inspires his whole life will likewise inspire his death.
That is why the cross draws us Christians so much. We kiss the face of the Crucified One, we raise our eyes to him, we listen to his last words …, because we see in his crucifixion the ultimate service Jesus gives to the Father’s project as well the supreme gesture of God, who hands his Son over out of love for all humanity.
It is inappropriate to turn Holy Week into folklore or tourist attraction. For Jesus’ followers, the celebration of our Lord’s passion and death means moving thanksgiving, joyful adoration of God’s “unbelievable” love and an invitation to live, like Jesus, in solidarity with crucified peoples.
March 29, 2015
Palm Sunday (B)
Mark 14, 1 – 15, 47