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“Come down from the cross!”

Crucifixion - image at the Catala Crucifixion side altar at Mission Santa ClaraLast Sunday was Palm Sunday, and at Mass we heard the long gospel reading about suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.

The place of crucifixion was next to a road leading in to the city of Jerusalem.  Visitors would know that crime was taken seriously and punished. (In some middle eastern cities today, public executions in the town’s square serves much the same way – as a very strong warning.) The humiliation of being on public display provided even more insult to injury.

A very short couple of lines in the Gospel of Matthew which we heard references the travelers on that road who saw Jesus and how they responded:

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!” (Mt. 27:39)

These people were not close followers of Jesus.  The men closest to Jesus all ran off in fear and were primarily in hiding.  The women closest to Jesus watched from a distance, according to Matthew (in John’s Gospel, ch 19:25 it is said that they were standing by the cross).  These individuals simply knew of Jesus and happened to be going past. (more…)

Martha and Mary

Do you ever hear a passage from Sacred Scripture and just see yourself in the story?  Somehow, whenever I read or listen to the segments that include Martha and Mary, I envision myself right there with them.  Sometimes I’m Martha, and other times, I’m Mary.

On Sunday at Mass, we heard the story from John’s Gospel of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus.  (See all of Sunday’s readings on the USCCB website for the 5th Sunday in Lent.) Such a powerful episode in Jesus’ life and ministry and a series of events around it that provide food for thought from a lot of different angles.

This last Sunday, I was thinking about Martha & Mary, and realizing how differently things shook out in this story as opposed to the events told in the Gospel of Luke when Mary wants to hear Jesus teach while Martha is busy taking care of things that need to be done.  Mary is learning, Martha is doing.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Luke 10:13

We know how this story goes.  Jesus tells Martha that Mary is doing the better thing right then and that he won’t make her get up and help.  (It’s easy to picture being both Martha and Mary there, at least for me.)