Today we hear the Passion account of the Gospel of Mark. Fr. Karban explains that in the Marcan account there is almost no mention of Jesus’ physical suffering. Everything this first evangelist says about Jesus’ bodily pain can be put into one small, three or four sentence paragraph. He
doesn’t even mention that Jesus was nailed to the cross.
Once the Gospel passion narratives begin, Jesus’ miracles stop. He loses his power to control the situations he encounters, something that always happens when one completely gives himself or herself to others.
The noted theologian, Fr. Bernard Lonergan, once asked one of his students to prove Jesus was God in one of the three agony-in-the-garden passages. After stalling as long as he could the student finally had to admit to the world’s expert on Jesus’ divinity, “I can’t prove he’s God from this passage. To his amazement, the Canadian Jesuit smiles and said, “Correct! He’s not God in the Gethsemane narratives. He’s totally human.”
When the session-ending bell finally rang, Lonergan told the student (Fr. Karban) one of the most profound and helpful things he’s ever heard. “When you get back to America, forget most of the stuff I taught you about Jesus’ divinity and the Trinity. Preach about Jesus’ humanity. That’s the only thing with which your people can identify.”
Mark was convinced of that fact long before Lonergan came on the scene. He meant to convey that any follower of Jesus of Nazareth is another Christ. We’re expected to carry on his ministry in our day and age. That’s why it is essential for us to know his frame of mind and to understand how and why we are to suffer with him.
Our Christian sacred authors believed Jesus is alive today, sharing his love of all people through us. We’re the ones who share his word and love with the weary, who empty ourselves for the sake of others, and are willing to suffer in whatever ways are necessary to convey that love. We’re constantly redefining ourselves, constantly changing to meet the needs of those around us.
It’s essential that, as we hear today’s readings, we don’t just zero in on someone else’s suffering, but that we reflect on our own, Christ-inspired suffering. If we don’t, we’re not hearing the message our sacred authors intended us to hear. (Taken from Fr. Karban’s reflection in Celebration)
We enter into Holy Week today. The parish has suspended meetings as usual this week so that we can find time for prayer. Join us this week as we celebrate the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). These are days that remind us of what Christ did for us so that we might have life. This is a time when we give thanks and recommit ourselves to follow Christ.