April 5, 2020
Revised Common Lectionary
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Matthew 26:14 – 27:66
Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Matthew 26:14 – 27:66
“Then Jesus cried with a loud voice and breathed his last.” (Matthew 27:50)
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death make no effort to paper over the reality of his death. He did not merely “pass away” or “pass on” or “transition.” He died. Not only did Jesus die, but he suffered death by execution in a public, humiliating, brutal, and painful manner at the hands of an oppressive occupying power.
Remembering the death of Jesus has been at the heart of Christian belief and practice from the outset, beginning with the preaching of Peter to the crowds on Pentecost and continuing to this very day in the faith we profess and in the Lord’s Supper that many believers celebrate each Sunday.
The death of Jesus is good news because it gives meaning to our own death. United with Christ in death, we are also one with him in the hope of new life.
The dying of Jesus is good news also because it proclaims God’s identification with the least among us and with all of suffering humanity. We remember that in the dying of Jesus, God has chosen to take the side of all who suffer at the hands of the powerful and extends to them the promise of new life.
God is on the side of the nearly 200 Salvadoran asylum seekers and refugees who were deported back to their home country only to be killed upon their return. God is on the side of people who face the death penalty today. God is on the side of all who suffer because of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, or any other form of injustice. God is on the side of those who suffer from infection or impact from the coronavirus. God is on the side of the dying, including those who die alone.
The death of Jesus calls us to be like him, to cast our lot with all who suffer death or injustice today, to trust that God will bring us with them and with Jesus to the fullness of life.
A Hymn for Today: “Rejected and Despised”
Hymnwriter Mary Louise Bringle uses vivid language to express the identification of the crucified Jesus with those who endure injustice and suffering today. The final stanza gives voice both to our repentance in the face of human suffering and to a hope that is rooted in the death of Jesus.
Rejected and despised by men
and women of our race,
he bears transgression’s wounding weight
and anguish mars his face.
This Man of Sorrows, born to loss,
acquainted with our grief:
this Christ of God now crucified
In all the victims of our age,
the battered and the bruised,
Christ lives again, alike with them
by human sin abused:
ascending on a cross to die,
descending into hell;
in torment, suffering, scorn, and pain,
we meet our God as well.
Forgive us, Lord, as you forgave
with your expiring breath
the ones whose guilty hands, like ours,
required a guiltless death.
O mystery of such costly love,
O depth of grace revealed:
in scourge-marked flesh, we find our Christ,
and by his stripes are healed.
Text: Mary Louise Bringle, 2000. © 2002, GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission.
ONE LICENSE is offering gratis license options through April 15, 2020, for permission to reproduce this text and other materials in their church’s virtual worship aids: https://news.onelicense.net/2020/03/13/one-license-offers-gratis-licenses-to-help-cope-with-covid-19-challenges-valid-through-april-15/.
“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.