Sermon for Tuesday in Holy Weekadmin | 11 April 2017
“Turn unto the Lord your God”
It is Joel’s word to us, his word shaping our thinking about the Passion of Christ. Turn unto God but to do what? To be cruel and brutal? To do evil? What we contemplate today in the continuation of the Passion is the continuing brutality and folly of our humanity. It seems that we turn to Christ only to betray him in one way or another. We turn to Christ only to contemplate our own brutality and evil. Yesterday we had the picture of Judas’ kiss of betrayal and Peter’s bitter tears poured out like the precious ointment from the broken box of alabaster. And today? The further spectacle of the miscarriage of justice in which we see the whole pageant of the injustices of the world. We see the cruelty of mob violence and the brutality of abuse. Christ is mocked and beaten and led out to be crucified. Where are we in all of this spectacle? We are in the crowd in one way or another. We confront the darkness of the human heart, our hearts. If we have hearts, they shall be broken, and only so shall we be whole.
He goes the way of the Cross bearing the burden of our sins. No one comes to his aid. Everything is focused on the human rage to destroy; such is his crucifixion. When he stumbles under the weight of the cross itself, his persecutors compel – force – one Simon of Cyrene to bear his cross. He is completely abandoned. Christ is the object of all our discontent, our hatred and enmity, our will to destroy. Everything that belongs to the disorder and disarray of our human hearts is on display in his Passion.
The one word from the Cross in Matthew and Mark’s account is the word which voices the utter desolation of human evil. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is a line from the psalms and yet it captures something of the real nature of human evil which is about our self-willed separation from the goodness and truth of God. Yet his word is a prayer, a prayer to God out of the depths of the reality of human sin. That is what is made visible to us. Only if we face the cruel brutality of ourselves can we learn something of the greater goodness of God. The lesson for us is learned by one who was part of the spectacle, a Roman centurion who looking upon the dying Christ says, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
We contemplate in the crucified Christ something more than just the brutality and cruelty of our hearts. We contemplate the God who seeks to make our hearts clean and new. We can only come to that through the spectacle of the Passion. We confront the evil of ourselves to learn the greater goodness of God. Such is the turning, our turning away and our turning back again and in the hopes of a deeper understanding of sin and love. Such are the deep and profound lessons of the Passion. If we will turn and see. Our turning is our repentance, at once moving us to contrition and confession even the confession of Christ as the Son of God. That is the only good of this spectacle.
“Turn unto the Lord your God”
Fr. David Curry
Tuesday in Holy Week
April 11th, 2017