April 5 2004        Passion Sunday  (C)      Luke 22:14-23:56




St. Patrick’s parish is in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  There are four weekend Masses including a children’s Mass at 10:45, Sunday.  This is the parish where I was formerly pastor.  [email protected]  Cf. also Social Concerns Education: www.acpp.org --   Fr. Gene Thalman M.M.]


            I like to help others rather than have other people help me. I would feel even worse if someone had to go through terrible suffering to save me or make me happy.  I would not like to witness someone going through terrible suffering just for me.  That is why I dislike Holy Week.  I hope it passes quickly and we can celebrate Easter.


I feel uncomfortable during Holy Week.  I think it is because I don’t like to think that Jesus suffered these cruel tortures just because he loved me personally.




This week Luke tells us the horrible things that happened to Jesus in Jerusalem in Holy Week, 33 C.E.


Luke’s gospel is different from the other three gospels.  Luke seems to play down the malice of the various actors.  He tries to put a good spin on every actor’s performance. As much as possible he leaves out much of the cruelty inflicted upon Jesus.  He is a lawyer making a case for the defense.


            He did not want to lay a “guilt trip” on the early Christians.  Because these good Christians knew that had they been in Jerusalem that very week and had been one of the actors, they would not have acted much differently.  Maybe worse, too.     


Luke excuses the three apostles for sleeping in the Garden of Olives because they were “heavy with sleep.”  Luke doesn’t say Peter “swore” he didn’t know Jesus.  Rather he just denied that he knew Jesus.  And right away Jesus looks at Peter and Peter knows that he is forgiven.  Luke doesn’t say that Judas committed suicide.  Instead Luke tells us that Judas died in the field that he bought and Luke lets his readers presume that perhaps Judas had an accidental death. Luke doesn’t mention that the chief priests and leaders had Jesus bound with ropes before sending him to Pilate.  It is easy to imagine that these chief priests and leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their strongly held convictions, as one who undermined their authority and as one who endangered their delicate peaceful co-existence with Rome. Luke explains how reluctantly Pilate condemned Jesus to death in the interest of harmony—as the lesser of two evils.  Luke says the “guards” rather than the Roman soldiers crowded Jesus with thorns and spat on him. Luke says that the crowd merely made fun of Jesus. Luke doesn’t say so but we can guess that the people in the crowd believed they were doing the right thing because they heard the propaganda fed to them in the evening news—sincerely believing that Jesus was a demon and certainly not a patriot.  Luke doesn’t mention those who remained at home that day indifferent or those who just wanted to stay out of trouble and who reasoned: “Why get involved? Why look for trouble when a controversial Jew from Galilee is crucified?





            Our temptation this week will be to block from out thoughts the details of Jesus’ sufferings and cruel death.  We will be tempted to forget how much we need Jesus’ love and how much he has loved each of us and at what a terrible sacrifice.  And although we are glad that Jesus did this for “other” sinners, we feel that we really didn’t need Jesus to suffer like that for us.


            Yet it is important that we live this week, not as something that happened 2,000 years ago, but as an event that is happening now.  Through our Holy Week liturgical mysteries, each of us is an active participant in what went on that week in Jerusalem. Nor are Jesus’ sufferings at an end.  Jesus suffers the same cruel tortures as he did 2,000 years ago-- in the bodies of his little one.


            During this week we grieve for our sins.  We uncover new layers of sinfulness.  We become aware of the evil we are capable of given a different set of circumstances change. During this week our hearts fill with thanksgiving for the eternal happiness that Jesus by his suffering, death and resurrection gained for us.


            In this way, this could be the most important week in our lifetime.  It means thinking a lot about the events of Holy Week in close company with Jesus, Mary and the faithful women.




April 5 2004        Passion Sunday  (C)      Luke 22:14-23:56


ONE WORD:  Expediency



TWO WORDS:  Political Expediency


THEME:  Pilate condemned Christ to death out of political expediency. Because of Christ’s death Christians are suspicious of all injustices based on arguments of political expediency.


TEXT:  “I have examined him in your presence and have no charge against him arising from your allegations.”  [Lk 23: 14-NAB]


RESPONSE:  Like Pilate we witness injustices but we feel these must be accepted as the lesser of two evils.  As Christians we gather together with the newspaper, the Holy Scripture and in the presence of the Holy Spirit to discover our course of action—lest we do the Pilate thing and join the crowd in condemning Christ.


DESIRED RESULT:  Father, as a result of last week’s homily and in reading the newspaper, I saw several instances of the arguments based upon political expediency. I thought to make myself present at the crucifixion and stand with Mary and the women.




“In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that ‘sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the Redeemer endured.’ Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they hall to often burdened the Jews alone: …” Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #598, p. 154.





-- During the Iran war, it was expedient that the U.S. support Saddam

   Hussein despite his horrible human rights record.


--It is politically expedient that journalists be prohibited from visiting certain 

    villages in China infected with AIDS because of blood donations with unsterile

    needles.  For the greater good, it is best to keep this situation quiet and to jail

    those who report these events to the media.  Forbid foreign journalists to go

    into this area.  It is somehow related to national security.



Chewing, Digesting and DOING God’s Word

April 5 2004        Passion Sunday  (C)      Luke 22:14-23:56

NAME_________ Grade_____________


1. According to Luke’s why did Governor Pontus Pilate not wish to condemn Jesus to

    death?  ______________________________________

2.  Why do governments form alliances with perpetrators of gross injustices? 

     p________l       e_______y.

3.  Why are Christians uncomfortable with the argument of practical politics?

      That was the same argument Pilate used in  ________________  Christ to death.

4.   Give an example of political expediency, past or present,

      A. In your country _______________________

      B.  In your city __________________________

      C.  In your parish ________________________

      D.  In your family ________________________


HINTS:  Pilate knew that Christ was innocent, political expediency, condemning.