Sybil 1998

Gospel text

Luke 22: 14 - 23, 56

22, 14 When the time had come, Jesus sat down with his apostles. 15 Then he said to them, "I desired with great desire to eat this Passover with you before experiencing the sufferings that await me. 16 For I tell you, I will not have the opportunity to eat it until it is fully realized in the world of God. 17 Having received a cup, he did thanksgiving with these words, "Take it and share it among you, 18 for I assure you that from now on I will not drink the fruit of the vineyard anymore, until the world of God is established". 19 And when he took bread and did thanksgiving, he broke the bread and gave it to them with these words, "This is my body offered for your good. Do this to keep alive the memory of me. 20 And he did the same thing with the cup after eating, saying, "This cup is the new covenant sealed with my blood, shed for your good. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me to the authorities is with me at this table. 22 For the new Adam goes on his way according to the order of things, but I pity the man who betrays me to the authorities". 23 And they began to discuss among themselves which of them was about to do so.

24 And an argument broke out between them to determine which of them should be considered the most important. 25 Jesus said to them, "The kings of the nations rule over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But for you it will not be so. On the contrary, let the most important of you take on the appearance of a junior, and the one who rules that of a servant. 27 Who is most important, who is at table or who serves? Is not he the one at the table? And I am in the midst of you as one who serves. 28 You are of those who stayed with me in my trials. 29 And I have made available for you the domain of God, as the Father hath done unto me, 30 that ye may eat and drink at my table in my domain, and sit on thrones to be judge over the twelve tribes of Israel."

31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has asked to sift you as you do with wheat. 32 But I prayed for you, that you may not loose faith. And you, when you return from your misguidance, support your brothers". But he said to him, "Lord, I am ready to accompany you to prison and even to death". 34 Jesus answered him, "I tell you, Peter, today the rooster will not crow until three times you have denied knowing me."

35 Then he said to them, "When I sent you without a purse, backpacks, or shoes, did you miss anything?" They replied: "No, not a thing!" 36 Then he went on, "But now the one who has a wallet bring it, just like the one who has a backpack, and the one who does not have a weapon sells his coat to get it. 37 For I tell you, it's up to me to perform what was written, more precisely this sentence: And he was put in the number of criminals. Indeed, my life is coming to an end". 38 Then they said to him, "Lord, we have here two weapons. Jesus answered them, "It is enough!"

39 After leaving the room, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives. His disciples also followed him. 40 When Jesus reached this place, he said to them, "Pray not to fail in ordeals. 41 Himself went away from them about a stone's throw, and after bending his knees, he prayed with these words, "Father, if you will, remove this cup from me. However may happen not what I want, but what you want". 43 Then he experienced the presence of God who comforted him. 44 Having entered an inner battle, Jesus prayed with even greater intensity. And his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 And having got up from his prayer, and having joined up with his disciples, he found them asleep with sorrow. 46 He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Stand up and pray, so as not to fail in the ordeal."

47 And when he was speaking, behold, there was a multitude, and the one who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was walking before them, and approached Jesus to give him a kiss. 48 Jesus said to him, "Judas, by a kiss do you deliver the new Adam?" 49 Seeing what was coming, those who were with him said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" 50 And one of them smote the high priest's servant, and took off his right ear. 51 Speaking Jesus said, "Let it go, even that!" Then after touching his ear, he heals him. 52 He said to the people who had just arrived to arrest him, high priests, chiefs of the temple guards and elders, "You came with swords and big sticks as if you were going to arrest a bandit. 53 Yet while every day I was with you in the temple, you did not get your hands on me. But now is your time and that of the powers of the night".

54 And seizing him, they took him away, and brought him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed from afar. As a fire had been lit in the middle of the inner courtyard and people had sat around, Peter had also sat down with them. 56 When he saw him sitting by the light of the fire, a servant stared at him and said to him, "He was with him too." 57 Peter denied, "No, ma'am, I do not know him". Then, shortly afterwards, someone else, a man, after seeing him, said, "You too are from this group!". But Peter said, "No, sir, I am not". About an hour later another forcefully insisted, "It is true, he too was with him, besides he is Galilean". Peter replied, "Sir, I do not know what you are talking about. As soon as he spoke again, a rooster crowed. 61 After turning around, the Lord fixed his gaze on Peter, and he remembered the word of the Lord who had said to him: Before a cock crows today you will have denied me three times. 62 Once outside, he cried bitterly.

63 The men who guarded Jesus mocked him by molesting him, 64 and after covering his face they asked him with these words, "Play to the prophet, who has just struck you?" While many others insulted him.

66 When the day was over, the college of the elders of the people, together with the high priests and the Bible scholars, gathered, and they took him to the hall of their great council to question him, "If you are the messiah, tell us'. Jesus retorted, "If I ever answered you, you would not believe me. 68 If I asked you, you would not answer. From now on the new Adam is called to share the autority of God". 70 They all said to him, "So you are the son of God". He declared to them, "Yourself say that I am". 71 Then they said, "Do we still need testimony? Because we ourselves have heard it from his mouth."

23,1 After all their congregation was risen, they brought him to Pilate's house. 2 They began to accuse him like this, "We have found him arousing our nation to revolt and opposing the payment of the tax to the emperor by claiming to be himself the Messiah King". Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered him with this declaration, "It is you who says it". 4 Pilate said, addressing the high priests and the crowd, "I find no cause of accusation against this man". 5 But they insisted, "He stirs up the people by teaching all over Judea, having begun in Galilee to finally get to this place."

6 Hearing the mention of Galilee, Pilate asked if the man was Galilean. 7 When he heard that he was under the jurisdiction of Herod, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem for this week of celebrations. 8 Seeing Jesus appear, Herod felt great joy, for it was a long time that he wished to see him because of the echoes he had had of him, and he hoped to see him perform a wonder. He was interrogating him with a lot of questions. But Jesus does not say anything to him. 10 The high priests and the Bible scholars who had gathered there, accused him violently. 11 Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. After dressing him in a dazzling garment, he sent him away to Pilate. 12 Thus Herod and Pilate became friends for one another at that time, when they had previously felt enmity for one another.

13 After having summoned the chief priests, the chiefs, and the people, Pilate 14 said to them, "You have presented this man to me as someone who stirs the people to revolt, but here I am, after having questioned him before you, I have not found in this man any of the motives with which you accuse him, as well as Herod. That's how he returned him to us. I find absolutely nothing worthy of death in what he has accomplished. So after having corrected him, I intend to release him. [v.17 is a non-Lucanian variant] 18 But they all shouted together, "Get rid of this fellow! Free us Barabbas instead". 19 The latter had been thrown into prison for insurrection in the city and for murder. 20 Again Pilate called to them, seeking to free Jesus. 21 But they cried out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" 22 For the third time Pilate said to them, "But what has this man done wrong? I did not find any charge against him that deserved death. So, after having him flogged, I will release him". 23 They were crying with loud cries for his crucifixion, and their cries grew louder and louder. 24 Then Pilate decided to yeld to their demand. 25 He set free the one who was thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, as they claimed, and delivered Jesus to their good will.

26 As they brought him, a certain Simon of Cyrene, who was returning from the fields, was seized and forced to carry the cross behind Jesus. 27 A great crowd of men of the people followed him, as well as women who beat their breasts and lamented his fate. 28 Turning to them, Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry over me. Cry rather about yourself and your children. 29 For there will come a time when people will say: 'Bravo for the barren women, the bellies that did not give birth and the breasts that did not feed a child'. 30 Then one will begin to say to the mountains, 'Shelter us', and to the hills, 'Hide us'. 31 For if it be so with the green wood, what will happen with the dry wood?" 32 They were leading two other bandits with him to be put to death as well. 33 And when they came to the place called Skull, they crucified him there, and the two bandits, one on his right hand, the other on his left. 34 And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing". To share his clothes, they drew lots. 35 While the people stood there, watching, the rulers ridiculed him, saying, "He saved the others, let him now save himself, if he really is the messiah of God, the one that He really chose". 36 The soldiers also mocked him as they approached to offer him vinegar, 37 saying, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself". 38 In fact, a sign had been placed above him saying, "This is the King of the Jews".

39 One of the criminals who were hanging on the cross shouted at him with insults saying, "Are not you really the messiah? So save yourself, and us too". But the other replied with rebukes, declaring, "Do you have no respect for God when you suffer the same pain? 41 For us, it's really deserved, because we live the consequences of our actions; but he did not do anything wrong". 42 And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your domain". 43 Jesus retorted, "Truly, I say to you, you will be with me today in paradise."

44 It was already noon, and the darkness laid on earth until three o'clock. 45 As the sun was gone, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in the middle, 46 and at that moment Jesus, in a loud cry, said, "Father, in your hands I put my spirit back". Saying this, he expired. 47 Seeing what had happened, the centurion expressed his admiration to God, saying, "Truly, this man was right". 48 And the crowds who had come to watch the scene, seeing what had happened, returned and struck their chests. 49 At a distance stood men who knew him well, and women who accompanied him from Galilee and contemplated the scene.

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the council, who was a good and just man 51 - he had not associated himself with their decision or action - from the Jewish city of Arimathea and who was waiting for the world of God. 52 After going to Pilate's house, he claimed the body of Jesus. 53 And he brought him down from the cross, and bound him with fine linen, and laid him in a tomb carved out of stone, where no one had yet been laid. 54 Now it was a day of preparation for the feast, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women, who had joined Jesus from Galilee and followed Joseph, watched the tomb and how his body had been laid. They went back to prepare the aromatics and perfumes.

When the Sabbath came, they rested according to the commandment.


Keep moving forward in the night, fight to the end

Gospel commentary - Homily

To die in a battle, a door to life

One day, a former teacher of the New Testament, to whom I had asked if Luke was not his favorite evangelist, answered me crossly, "Never! Luke is way too sweet! He removes scenes that are too harsh". The story of today's passion would bring water to his mill: Luke minimizes the violence done to Jesus so that he does not wear a crown of thorns, he is not flogged, he is not spat upon and it is not mentioned that his disciples abandoned him. And in addition, the too hard scenes are mitigated by marvelous or salutary events: the denial of Peter is accompanied by the mention that he will keep the faith and strengthen his brothers later, the sliced ear of the high priest's servant is immediately repaired, one of the two crucified bandits turns to him and finds himself in paradise, the crowd watching the scene of crucifixion returns repentant. Would there be a rosy outlook in the Gospel here? And if it was rather the opposite. Is not Luke's emphasis more on the door of life opened by the acceptance of our daily battles? Let's look a little closer.

The key to understanding our story is this word of Luke in the scene of Gethsemane: "Having entered into agony, Jesus prayed with even greater intensity".Unfortunately, the liturgical text translated the word "agony" into anguish. Agony is a word of Greek origin that first means wrestling and fighting, and the verb agonize means first to wrestle, to fight for. Of course, accepting the struggles of life brings with it anxiety, worry, and anguish. But what triggers life is fighting, not anxiety. When we look at the whole life of Jesus, we find everywhere this fight in all its forms, internal struggles reported in the story of temptations to the difficult testimony of his trial, through his healing works and his invitations to a new direction in our life.

To live is to struggle constantly in order to give birth to ourselves and to bring others to themselves. The story of Norwegian Bøse Ousland and South African Mike Horn is a bit of an example, albeit an extreme one. Having left Siberia in January 2006, they reached the North Pole in March during the Arctic night, moving on foot and ski. What their memory wanted to keep first is not the reaching of the North Pole, but this fight of every moment, the victory over the temptation to abandon everything when the ice pack pushed by contrary winds made them retreat, the fight against the intense cold that froze their finger and their face, these calculated steps forward in the night while carrying a load of more than 150 kilos when they saw absolutely nothing. To refuse to advance was to die. In the end what they found is not the North Pole, but a dimension of themselves.

Most of the time, we do not choose our fights. A man or a woman struggling with cancer, did they choose this fight? Does a couple who ends up with a disabled child choose this fight? Does someone caring for a sick or non-autonomous parent choose to have a parent in this state? What about the person who discovers one day his homosexuality? And could we change something by lamenting faulty ancestral genes, or parents who would be responsible for alcoholism or drug problems? Only one thing counts: the lucidity to recognize that a fight is proposed to us, to accept it and to find there life.

This is the story of Gethsemane where Jesus experienced the terrible debate between accepting the fight to the end, including death, or dropping everything. Even if Luke mentions that Jesus must pray with all his strength and that his sweat becomes like blood clots, so much the struggle is difficult, it remains that he wants to stress out the life that is already generated by this fight. And this is something contagious: one of the brigands suddenly refuses to curse his situation, accepts a new fight by turning to Jesus, which opens the door to an unexpected life. Crowds leaving Golgotha by hitting their chest now want to face the challenge of a new life.

To accept or refuse the struggle of our lives is the terrible power we have. Do we really want life? So we know what we will choose.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, January 2007