The passion narratives that we are presented with each Palm Sunday are so rich, that is a great shame that the imperative of keeping Mass within the hour time limit precludes a suitable reflection. This year I decided that it seemed best once Jesus had died in the story and I knelt down, that it makes more sense for the Lord to stay ‘dead’ – so I remained kneeling and offered this brief reflection while kneeling and looking at the beautiful stained glass window scene of the crucifixion that adorns the sanctuary. [At the first Mass people remained standing during my reflection; in the second Mass, the other characters also joined me in remaining kneeling as did the whole congregation besides the narrator – who was instructed to invite the community to be seated at the end of the Gospel.]
The Gospel of Mark joins the other Gospels in reporting the choice that was offered to the crowds concerning one prisoner that could be released for the sake of the festival. They are offered the choice between Jesus and Barabbas – a brigand. It is the same word in the Greek text that Luke uses to describe the ‘thieves’ that bookcase Jesus – so it could be thief, or zealot, revolutionary, terrorist… In the Gospel of Matthew, Barabbas is given an extra name: Jesus Barabbas. What makes this interesting is that the name Barabbas – Bar (son of) Abbas (the father) indicates that the crowd is actually presented with the choice between Jesus, the son of the father, and Jesus the Son of God the Father. Which adds to this text that is already laden with irony and sorrow in its description of the reality of human failure.
Palm / Passion Sunday; recorded at St Col’s (Vigil and 9am; 3 mins)