Gospel Luke 23:1-49
The elders of the people, chief priests and scribes,
arose and brought Jesus before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
“I find this man not guilty.”
But they were adamant and said,
“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here.”
On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus;
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, “You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
But all together they shouted out,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.”
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Pilate addressed them a third time,
“What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.
As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?”
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.
When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle
saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.
Reflection by JD Macioce, FSC
This Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week where we, as a community of believers, commemorate the events of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. As a kid I remember Palm Sunday being the time I would work diligently constructing a small cross out of the palm branches we picked up as we entered the Church. I recall complaining to my mom on more than one occasion theses readings were the longest readings of the year. To which she would respond in a hushed tone, “they probably are but you survived last year, didn’t you?” But as time went on, I began to worry less about making the cross and started to pay attention more to the readings, recognizing that the gospel readings for this Sunday makes up the center of our faith. But I believe now that this passage from Luke, although long, serves as a challenge for us through the ages.
Before Jesus is to be handed over to the authorities, he gathers his apostles, his community, together one last time over the Passover meal and tells them how much he has been looking forward to this time together. During the meal, the apostles begin to squabble over who is the greatest. When will they ever learn it’s not about them? Jesus corrects them while advocating for what we would come to call servant leadership as he points out, “I am among you as one who serves.” Isn’t that what we are all called to do? To be one who serves? And there isn’t an expiration date on that service either.
As I continued to reflect Jesus being among his apostles as one who serves and continued to do so up until the point his is arrest, I found myself thinking of a few Brothers that continue to serve even though our society may tell them it’s time to stop and be served for once. One Brother, who attempted to teach me in Freshmen Religion, remained involved in the school office into his nineties. Or another who, although left the classroom decades before, continued to be of service through his prayer and availability for former students or Brothers in Formation. And still another helps with household chores as far as he is able because that is how he and the others view themselves as being of service to our local community as well as the Institute and because that is how they feel they can bring about the Kingdom of God. Not to mention, they continue to be prophetic witnesses of the fraternity that inspires their Brothers and other members of the Lasallian Family.
May we all be open and responsive to Christ’s call to be servant leaders in our Church and in our Institute and in the various forms of ministry to which we are called to witness of Christ’s love.