As I listen to these powerful and haunting words this evening I feel some inner confusion. I am not sure how to react. You see, there is a very strong tendency in our culture and our tradition to adopt the stance of a spectator this time of year – to imagine that Jesus is battling alone in these pages in some cosmic struggle for my salvation. When put in this stance I do little more than applaud. It is a struggle in which I do not feel involved.

But wait a minute. I read elsewhere in Scripture that “in God I live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28). If this is true there is part of me that bears this Jesus into the often difficult circumstances of life. Here is the question: Can I likewise act from this divine place inside me in the sometimes difficult circumstances of life in which I find myself? Let’s meditate on the Passion tonight with this question in mind.

In light of all the words we have already heard this evening, our meditation will merely be a series of questions from the text about the divine life embedded in us:

Have you ever been loved and respected for superficial reasons? Have people waved palms at you because of what they hope you will do for them? Part of us loves this attention, but our deeper part finds it lonely. The part of us that lives and moves in God can ride a humble donkey as a sign of freedom from this superficial attention.

On the other side of the spectrum, have you ever been loved for who you truly are. Like the women with the expensive oil, has someone rejoiced at the your divine spark and told you so. Like Jesus I expect you felt built up, but not embarrassed. Like Jesus you held in great honor this one who could really see.

Have you ever been betrayed, for love, for money, for a job? Have you ever had someone distance themselves from you during stress, as Peter did? The authentic in us receives this betrayal and denial without violence, without judgment. The injury stops, it is not passed on.

Have you ever been through a struggle and really needed your friends, family or faith community? Have you ever been vulnerable enough to specifically ask for support that was not delivered. Like the disciples at Gethsemane your friends fell asleep when you needed them. The part of you that lives and moves in God names the pain but does not lash out. The authentic life in you does pass on or multiply the injury.
Have you ever felt utterly forsaken, like you have no hope and you cannot fix it or even understand it? But part of you is not diminished. That part of you that lives and moves in God can still forgive the haters. This part of you can still comfort the other prisoner. This part of you will not project the forsakenness onto others.

Have you ever experienced the revelatory nature of death, whether in small ways or large? In Mark’s Gospel nobody proclaims who Jesus really is, not after healings, miracles, great sermons or pithy parables, until his revelatory death – a Roman soldier says “truly this is the Son of God.” In our own physical death, when our ego recedes and we are alone with that part of us that lives and moves in God, we are closest to our final and most revelatory adventure. At this time we hear most clearly “Truly you are my child.” Can we believe this is true in the smaller deaths along the way? Can we believe that as the ego retreats in the face of injury, illness, in difficult moments of parenting, in challenges in our primary relationships, in trials in our service, and in challenges in our faith community, when we are briefly alone with the self that lives and moves in God, we are apt to faintly hear “truly you are my child.”

In God we live, in God we move, in God we have our being. This week is not just a story about Jesus’ journey with God in difficult circumstances. It is a story of our journey to access God within us in the circumstances of life in which we find ourselves. Let’s find ourselves in the story this Holy Week.


George von Stamwitz

Sts. Clare & Francis Ecumenical Catholic Community
Liturgy for Palm Sunday
Saturday Evening, March 28, 2015
Focus text: The Passion according to Mark

Photo by Israel Tourism on flickr.com