St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Passion Sunday 2019 : Fr Tony Hogg

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 Lent 5. Passion Sunday 2019
 
From the gospel today we see that the showdown between Jesus and certain
Jewish leaders is like a gift promise by forbears to the generation after
them. The gift is rejected out of hand by future generations as not a gift but as 
something blasphemous. The future generations reject the gift because it 
doesn’t look like or act like they think the gift should be. Something else, or 
someone else, has corrupted the gift. Now the gift is worthless and should be 
cast away to die.
 
By now you will have guessed that the gift is Jesus Christ and his gifts of 
forgiveness, life, and salvation. The generations before are the children of 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The future generations are the Jews who refuse 
to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. If you look a 
little closer at those who reject the Gift of Jesus, you might see a few faces in 
the crowd you recognize. You might even see a flash of your own face or 
perhaps mine.
 
When we despise Jesus’ words we taste death and wish we hadn’t. We can’t 
help but give death our full attention. Death is something unknown to 
Christians. Jesus has taken care of eternal death for us. However, tasting the 
unknown is much more adventurous that with which we are always familiar. 
Who doesn’t like an adventure? So we no longer keep Christ’s word and jump 
into the unknown.
 
That leap into the unknown brings us face to face with our worst nightmare: 
eternal separation from God. We might make the excuse that it is a leap of 
faith. We know that God will be there when we need him. So we’ll take an 
adventure away from God for a while and see if there’s anyone else we might 
fear, love, and trust above him.
In the O.T we recollect Abraham and Isaac’s journey to the mountain of 
sacrifice where in Genesis 22 God tells Abraham to take his son and sacrifice 
him on an altar. No wonder so many agnostic or atheistic people despise the 
one true God. He is a God who asks the impossible. Who would want to 
sacrifice their beloved son? But isn’t God the God of Love? Why would a 
loving God demand the death of Abraham’s only son. We know Abraham 
takes this journey with faith. He knows that God will not do as he says. God 
will find a substitute for Abraham’s son. That is exactly what happens when 
he finds a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.
The Jews are people of the O.T and you would think they would notice Jesus 
being the ram caught in the thicket when they see Jesus wearing the crown of 
thorns. They just don’t see it and as we heard in the gospel, they try every 
trick in the book to trap Jesus in his speech. Accuse him of being devil 
possessed. What makes it worse are phrases of Jesus like if anyone keeps my 
word he shall never see death and before Abraham was, I AM.
 
However Jesus words shouldn’t make things worse. We know he speaks the 
truth. We know Jesus is the Word made flesh. Long before Abraham was 
born, Jesus was, is, and is to come. Nevertheless, the Jews cannot take it 
anymore so they take up stones to throw at him, but Jesus gets away because 
his hour has not yet come.
 
Jesus escapes the Jews’ trap because his hour has not yet come; he knows that 
unlike the case of Isaac, he will provide a sacrifice for our sins, but in God’s 
good time. That hour comes soon for us. Next week we return to hear how 
Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death. As he 
suffers agony on the cross, remember that his agony is for you and me. The 
Promise is fulfilled in Jesus. Satan has no more claim over him. Jesus Christ is 
the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the 
transgressions under the new covenant, that those who are called receive the 
promise of the eternal inheritance.
So, my dears, the message of Passion Sunday is that evil does not prevail. As 
we enter the last two weeks of Lent, that really is the bottom line for us and 
that is why we call it Passiontide. We focus with great intensity on Christ’s 
suffering, death, and resurrection. The best way to meditate on the Passion of 
Christ is to participate in Word and Sacrament around his altar. We hear the 
word, eat his Body, drink his Blood, receive Absolution, and revel in the 
forgiveness of life to us because of Jesus Christ.  From this showdown of good 
and evil, we receive vindication. We are judged worthy of eternal life because 
Jesus was judged worthy of death. Amen
 
 

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