Year A, 2017
Welcome to Schizophrenia Sunday! We begin with a joyful celebration of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem for Passover on Sunday, marked by singing and palms. Ten minutes later we hear the Gospel story of his death as it occurred 5 days later. Wow, what a rapid transition from joy to sorrow.
Now if you attend the Holy Week services, you will hear about the last supper on Maundy Thursday and hear some portion of the passion story again on Good Friday. But what happened to Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday?
The church has excluded much of what Jesus did during that time from Holy Week, although parts of it appear in other places in the lectionary. I think this is a disservice because these events are critical to understanding the death of Jesus.
In Matthew’s Gospel, which we are hearing this year, these are some of the things that happened in the early part of Holy Week:
- Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple (remember that this was a function that the temple authorities authorized and probably made money from)
- Jesus heals people in the Temple and elsewhere
- Jesus repeatedly confronts the authorities and repeatedly outsmarts them. The high priest and his minions want to grab him but are afraid to do so because the crowds are with him
- They send the scribes, the Herodians, the Pharisees, to question and/or trick Jesus into blasphemy. He outwits them every time. And he tells them parables that suggest rather clearly that they are not doing their jobs well at all
- Jesus tells them, “The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the Kingdom.”
- Jesus rants: “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees – hypocrites . . .Woe to you blind guides! This goes on for many verses!
- In other words Jesus is bearding the lion in his own den. He is confronting the powers that be and telling the truth to them.
I hope you will read this account in Matthew this week. It’s quite wonderful, and amazing, and possibly puzzling. Start at Mattthew 12:21. When you are done, ask yourself these two questions:
- Is it true that religion has nothing to do with politics?
- Why did Jesus die?
- What part of the Jesus story is most important to you and your life in faith – Jesus’s life or his death?