Sybil 2002

Gospel text

Mark 14: 1 - 15, 47

1 It was two days before the feast of Passover and unleavened bread. The high priests and Bible scholars were looking for a subterfuge to seize Jesus and kill him. 2 Because they said to each other, "Do not do it during the feast, because of possible crowd movements."

3 While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper and was at table, a woman approached him with an alabaster vase containing the aroma of genuine and very expensive nard. After breaking her vase, she poured the contents on Jesus' head. 4 Some people shared their indignation with these words, "Why allow the waste of such a perfume? 5 It could have been sold for the equivalent of more than 300 days' pay and given to the poor". And they let out their anger against her. 6 But Jesus said, "Leave it, why bother it? It's a good action she did for me. 7 For the poor, you will have all the time among you, and whenever you decide, you can act in their favor. But I, on the other hand, you do not have me all the time. 8 What was possible for this woman to do, she did it: she anticipated the pouring of perfume on my body when they put me in the tomb. 9 Truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed throughout the world, it will also be remembered what she did in my memory.

10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the high priests with the intention of handing Jesus over to them. 11 These, listening to him, expressed their joy and promised to give him money. This is how Judas was looking for the best time to put him in their hands.

12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in which the paschal lamb was immolated, the disciples said to Jesus, "Where do you want us to go to make the preparations so that you can eat the Passover". 13 Then he sent two of his disciples with this instruction, "Go into the city, and there a man will come to meet you, carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him. 14 And in the place where he goes in, say to the owner, 'The master is asking you, Where is my dining room where I can eat the passover with my disciples?' 15 And he will show you a very tall room, with the carpets spread out, all ready. This is where you will make the preparations for us." 16 So the disciples set out and went into the city, and found everything as he had told them. They began to prepare the Passover.

17 In the evening, Jesus goes there with the Twelve. 18 When they sat down to eat, Jesus said to them, "Truly, I assure you, one of you will hand me over to the authorities, someone who eats with me. 19 Then the disciples became sad and began to ask one after the other, "Is it me?" 20 Jesus answered them, "One of the twelve, who used the same dish as me. 21 Surely the new Adam will go away as Scripture mentions about him, but as he is to be pitied, this man who will hand him over to the authorities; it would have been better for him to never have been born".

22 During the meal, having taken bread and having pronounced the blessing, he broke the bread which he then shared among them with these words, "Take, this is my body." 23 Then, taking a cup, he made the thanksgiving and sharing it with them, and they drank all. 24 He added, "This is my blood to make a covenant, and it will be shed for many. 25 Truly, I assure you, I will never drink wine again until I drink new wine in the world of God". 26 After singing the psalms, they went to the Mount of Olives.

27 Then Jesus began to say to them, "All of you are going to stumble, as Scripture says: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. 28 But when I will be awakened from the world of the dead, I will be in Galilee to guide you". Peter replied, "Even if everyone stumbles, I will be good." 30 Jesus continued, "Truly, I assure you, you, today, this very night, before the second song of the rooster, you will have already denied me three times". 31 But he cried out with even greater force, "If it were necessary, I would die with you, never would I deny you!" All the others spoke in the same way.

32 And they come to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go to pray. 33 And he takes with him Peter, James, and John. Then he began to be overcome by fear and anguish. 34. Then he said to them, "In my heart I am sad to the point of death. Stay here and stay awake. After a few steps forward, he collapsed to the ground and asked in his prayer that, if it were possible, to avoid this decisive moment. 36 More precisely he said, "Dad, my father, you are capable of everything, take off this cup. But come not what I want, but what you want". 37 He comes back to them and finds them asleep. And he said to Peter, Simon, are you sleeping? Did not you have the strength to stay awake for one hour with me? 38 Stay awake and take time to pray, so that you do not let yourself be challenged by the ordeal. Our intentions are good, but our human nature reveals a fragile being". 39 After walking away again, Jesus began to pray, repeating the same words. When he came back, he found them still sleeping, their eyelids heavy, and they did not know what to say to him. 41 When he returns for the third time, he says to them, "Will you go on sleeping and resting to the end? It's done! The decisive moment has arrived, now the new Adam will be handed over to people who are far from God. 42 Get up! Come on! The one who is betraying me has arrived."

43 As Jesus said these things, Judas, one of the twelve, immediately came along, accompanied by a group armed with swords and sticks, from high priests, Bible scholars, and elders. 44 The traitor gave them a sign when he said, "If you see me kissing someone, it will be him. Grab him and take him under guard. As he arrives, he immediately approaches Jesus with these words, "My master", then he gives him a kiss. They then put their hands on him and seized it. 47 And one of those standing with him put out his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and took off his ear. 48 Speaking, Jesus said, "Do you take me for a bandit so that you move with swords and sticks to capture me? Every day I was in the midst of you teaching in the temple and you did not take hold of me. But it's the Bible that makes sense of it". 50 Leaving him, the disciples fled away.

Now a teenager was following him wearing just a linen suit to cover his nakedness, and they try to grab it. But he, abandoning his garment, fled naked.

53 Jesus was brought to the High Priest, and all the high priests, the elders, and the Bible scholars met. 54 And Peter followed him afar off unto the inner court of the high priest, and sat there with the servants warming himself by the fire. 55 The high priests and all the Supreme Council of the Jews sought to obtain a testimony against Jesus, to put him to death, but they found none. 56 Indeed, many gave false testimonies against him, but these testimonies did not agree. 57 So some stood up to give this false testimony, 58 "We ourselves heard him say, I will destroy this temple made of human hands and in three days I will build another, different, not made of hand of man". But even on this point their testimonies did not agree. 60 Then, having risen, the High Priest asked Jesus in the midst of the congregation, "Do you answer to all those who bear witness against you?" But he kept silence and did not answer. Again, the High Priest was trying to question him, "Are you the messiah, the son of the One to whom we address our praises?" 62 Jesus answered, "I am. And you will see the new Adam, sharing the authority of the mighty Being and coming amid the clouds in the sky". 63 Immediately, having torn his shirt, the high priest exclaimed, "Is there still a need for a testimony? 64 You have heard, like me, the insult to God. How do you see the thing?" All condemned him to death. 65 Then some began to spit on him, veiling his face and then punching him, saying, "Play the prophet", and the servants slapped him.

66 While Peter was down in the inner courtyard, one of the High Priest's maids appeared, and seeing Peter warming, stared at him, saying, "Oh you! you were with the Nazarene, Jesus!" 68 But he denied it with these words, "I do not know at all, nor understand what you mean". And he went out to the vestibule. 69 The servant saw him and began to say again to the people present, "This one is part of the group". But he denied again. And soon after, the people who were there said to Peter, "Really, you are part of the group, you are also Galilean". 71 He denied everything by cursing Jesus and swearing that he did not know this man they were talking about. At that moment, the rooster sang for the second time. Peter remembered the words Jesus had told him: before the rooster sang twice, you would have denied me three times. And he broke down in tears.

15 1 Very early in the morning, high priests, elders, Bible scholars, and the entire Supreme Council of the Jews held a council. After tying Jesus up, they took him to Pilate to hand him over. 2 Then Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus gives him this answer, "It is you who say it". The high priests brought against him many accusations. Pilate again asked him, "Do you answer nothing? Look at everything you are accused of". 5 Jesus answered nothing, to the point of astonishing Pilate.

6 But at every feast he used to release one of their prisoners, the one they insisted on. There was a man named Barabbas who had been harshly punished with people who had provoked riots, some of whom had committed murder in the midst of their sedition. 8 And the multitude that went up to Jerusalem began to ask him what he was used to do for them. 9 Then Pilate answered them, "Do you want me to free you the king of the Jews?" For he knew well that it was out of jealousy that the high priests handed him over. 11 But the high priests stirred up the crowd to free them Barabbas. 12 When he spoke again, Pilate asked them, "What shall I do with him whom you say is the king of the Jews?" 13 They cried again, "Crucify him". Pilate said to them, "But what has he done wrong?" And they shouted even louder, "Crucify him." 15 Then Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them, but handed over Jesus, having scourged him, to be crucified.

The soldiers took him inside the palace, where the courtroom is, and they summoned the entire cohort. 17 They cover him with a purple garment and put on his head a crown of thorns, which they had plaited. 18 And they began to say to him, "Hail, King of the Jews". 19 And they smote him with a reed scepter on his head, and spit in his face, and falling on their knees they bowed down before him. 20 And, having mocked him, they took off his purple garment and put back his clothes on him. Then they take him outside to crucify him.

21 They forcibly mobilize a passer-by, a certain Simon the Cyrenean, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was returning from the fields to carry the cross of Jesus. They drag him to a place called Golgotha, a Hebrew word that translates as "Place of the Skull". 23 They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but Jesus did not want it. 24 Then they crucify him and divide his clothes, drawing lots to determine what each might take. 25 It was nine o'clock when they crucified him. 26 There was a sign of accusation on which was written, "The King of the Jews." 27 Two men are crucified with him, one on his right hand, the other on his left. 28 ... 29 The passers-by insulted him, expressing their contempt with a head movement and saying to him, "Hey! You who pretend you are able to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 then begins with freeing down yourself from this cross". 31 In the same way, high priests with Bible scholars spoke to one another in mockery of Jesus, "He has freed others, but he is not even able to free himself. 32 This is the messiah, the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, then we will see and believe". The other people crucified with him were also insulting him.

From noon it was dark everywhere until three o'clock. 34 At three o'clock, Jesus shouted with a strong voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabaqthani," which translates as "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?" 35 Hearing this, some of the audience said, "Behold! He is now calling out Elijah". 36 Then somone hastened to fill a sponge with vinegar and fixed it on a reed, and tried to make him drink, saying, "Let me do it! Let's see if Elijah will come to bring him down!" 37 But Jesus, having uttered a great cry, died. 38 Immediately the veil of temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 When he saw that he had just expired, the centurion who stood before him said, "Truly, this man is the son of God". 40 There were also women who were watching at a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James junior and Joses, and Solome, 41 who followed him from Galilee and cared for him, and several other women who had gone up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And the evening was already come, and it was a day of preparation, that is to say, a pre-Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council, someone who hoped also the coming of the reign of God, presents himself and dares going to Pilate to claim the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised that he was already dead, and after calling a centurion, he asked him to know since when Jesus died. 45 Then, informed by the centurion, he gave Joseph the corpse. 46 And when he had bought a fine cloth of linen and brought down Jesus from the cross, Joseph wrapped him in that cloth, and laid his body in a tomb which had been carved out of stone, and rolled a stone on the tomb's door. Mary Magdalene and Mary, Joses' mother, watched the place where he had been laid.


The cry of suffering, the cry for living

Gospel commentary - Homily

A God of the earth

One day a co-worker told me, "You are an intellectual". This enigmatic sentence was only understood when he added, "You do not like cars, it is simply a way to go from point A to point B. For me, on the contrary it is very important. I am very materialistic!" Was it a compliment? Not at all. It's like saying to me, "You are not of this earth!" Yet my personal journey is only a long walk to discover the mystery of this very land, the only place where God lets himself be discovered. And the gospel of passion proclaims it with force, and even with violence.

When we reread these chapters 14 and 15 of Mark, we are surprised at the face of Jesus that emerges there: there is no longer this miracle worker who heals people from everywhere, who chases demons, who teaches crowds who acclaim him, and who appears in a way as a being "apart". For the first time, he is only a human, and nothing is easy for him.

What holds the attention is the helplessness of Jesus. He who knew people well, how could he be mistaken in his choice of Judas as a disciple? He is frightened and anxious about what awaits him. He does not want to die, because he sticks to llfe as every one of us, "I wish it did not happen!" Once handcuffed, he will be a toy in the hands of the authorities. Where is he who chased demons and healed the sick? He is punched, spit in his face, scourged, ridiculed. The figure of Jesus is so far from that of a hero: not only will he be too weak to bear his cross, but he will die sooner than the other malefactors, to the point that Pilate will be surprised. He is like us.

What particularly surprised me is the violence that emerges throughout the story provided by Mark. The violence starts from the beginning on money issues about the ointment poured on Jesus. How to describe the violence of a disciple who kisses his master with a respectful name, "My master", and in fact he just gave him the kiss of death? Violence in the words of Peter who no longer knows how to swear he does not know Jesus, and who burst into tears, inconsolable before what he has done. Violence of a trial where everything is already decided in advance, without mentioning all the physical abuse of the Roman army. Violence in the scene of people who watch the scene with a certain contempt: how can one be so hard in front of a weak and vulnerable being, especially when this being has spent his life helping people and loving them? A scene comes to summarize this violence: after yelling "My God, My God, why did you abandon me" of Psalm 22, Jesus dies with a loud cry.

Without knowing why, tears flowed through me reading this story of passion. It's probably the age, I told myself, until someone brought to my attention: "Is not it rather because you recognize a little of yourself, a few people that you know, a little of your world?" That's right, I suffer from my own denials. I suffer from people's unconsciousness and their suffering; a father in my area, who had just heard that his son had coldly shot dead a retired couple in their cottage, found nothing more to say, "That's right, it's stupid what he did", and then went away to buy a case of 24 bottles of beer to get drunk. When the newspaper reports about Africa and these complete starving regions, describing at length their despair and the lack of solutions, I close it immediately, because it hurts me too much.

This passion of suffering would not exist if the passion of desire was not at the same time so strong, this desire that stems from deep inside us. We see it in Jesus: desire of the fraternal and warm community at his last meal, desire of a support group when he calls his disciples to accompany him in prayer, desire for a renewed world through his testimony on the messiah at his trial and especially the ending of Psalm 22 ("The poor will eat and be satiated, they will praise Yahweh, those who seek him"). Passion of desire and passion of suffering go hand in hand, and can only exist if I open myself totally to all the dimensions of what makes the thread of my life. We would like to escape this world and find God in heaven, while it is in the core of this earth, through this cry that rises from the heart of our being, that He lets himself be discovered. That is why, after hearing the great cry of Jesus expressing a desire so great that it becomes suffering, a desire that calls for resurrection, the centurion exclaimed, "Truly, this man is the son of God", ie there is no other place to look for the face of this mysterious being called God.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, December 2002