March 16,2008 Passion Sunday Year A

Scriptures: Isaiah 50:4-7
Philippians 2:6-11
Matthew 27:11-54

Today is Passion Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. To fully understand Jesus' suffering and its meaning for us today, 2 points are essential.

Point 1: Jesus is the true, one God who put aside for the time being His God-ness and became truly, truly human. He was not just acting a part as human, he was human, just as you and I are human (This is the message of Philippians 2:6-11). Therefore this is real suffering that Jesus experiences.

Point 2: Behind all this gruesome suffering is love for each of us. The Passion is the proof of His love. Each of us can say with St.Paul. "Jesus loves me and delivered himself up for me". Let us look at Matthew's Passion. Jesus, as every human does, felt the betrayal by his friend Judas. It cut him to the heart. Likewise the people He loved, incited by jealous leaders, chose Barabbas instead of Himself for freedom. It was so unfair, so unjust, so ungrateful.
Just as such ingratitude hurts us, it hurt Jesus. Then the soldiers scourged him with leather whips; they mocked (i.e. bullied) him by making a mock crown of thorns in imitation of a king's crown. Then the soldiers spat on him, and hit him. Behind all this suffering is love for you and me. This is a love that won us peace, life and healing. Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry his cross. Jesus helps us to carry the cross of hurt and suffering in our lives. But in his suffering Jesus also went through that very common human experience of sheer emptiness. Jesus did not feel that God His Father was giving him comfort. From the depths of his heart He cried: "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?" All this suffering emphasises Jesus' love, love, love, love. He is with us in our suffering. He walks with us (in Japanese,DOUHANSHA)in our suffering.