Palm Sunday, March 24, Were you there? A Sunday Scriptures blog

Each Holy Week, we hear two accounts of the Passion of the Lord. On Good Friday, we hear the Passion account from the Gospel of John. On Palm Sunday, we hear the Passion account from the year’s lectionary cycle, this year the Gospel of Mark. We all know the spiritual “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord).” Mark is the “Were you there?” Gospel. It’s scene after scene about the people who were there: the chief priests and scribes; the woman who anoints Jesus’ head with perfumed oil; the disciples, including some special ones like Peter and Judas; Pilate and Barabbas; soldiers; Simon of Cyrene; Magdalene and the other women; Joseph of Arimathea; and many others. Mark’s Passion account is a vivid drama, portraying complex actions and reactions to what was happening to Jesus, who mostly is silent. It grips us. It is very much an account in which people do not know or expect Easter. It’s a shocking story of a charismatic, beloved popular figure whose life ends suddenly and tragically.

By contrast, on Good Friday we hear John’s Passion account. It presents Jesus as a purposeful, power-filled figure who speaks often, someone who is not a victim of history but who accomplishes his Father’s plan through the events of history. John’s Gospel is a Gospel written in retrospect — with the benefit of perhaps 80 years reflection on the crucifixion of Jesus. Perhaps the two viewpoints of these Passion accounts mirror our own lives. Sometimes we meet difficulties of life with powerful clarity and strength. At other times, when we are in the middle of tough things, when we are “there,” we don’t know what to think or how to understand what is happening to us. Only as time passes can we see the patterns and meanings of our lives, see a troublesome time more clearly. How have your life troubles been for you? If you cannot attend Palm Sunday and Good Friday services this year, perhaps you might find time to read the Passion accounts of Mark and John.

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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