RCL Year C Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Saint Luke 23:1-49

Few rays of light illuminate what we have just reënacted. Of course, Jesus is one of them. His light, however, he himself intentionally obscures by “the example of his great humility”[1], his determined understatement of who he is, what he can do, and what his mission is in enduring the worst that humanity can devise. Criminal Number Two shines a great light when he asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Likewise the Roman soldier, the Centurion, shines a great light when he declares Jesus to have died innocently.

I put it to you that the rest partake in a miasma of error. Without exception, they get it wrong. Pilate, Herod, the Elders, the disciples, including Peter, the Crowd, and even Barabbas, whose freedom is undeserved, all grab the wrong end of the stick. By their words and deeds they are culpable for their demonstrated blindness and wickedness. Few courses of action are open to us if we want to escape their error.

The last thing we want to be today is wise; we want today to be like the Second Criminal and the Centurion; we want to get it right. Two things are necessary if we wish to get it right. And the first is God. We need God if we are to be and to be right. The whole sweep of the Christian way of life reveals that God is for us. The Passion of Christ declares how much God will do for us, so that we will become his.

The second thing we need is a burning desire to be God’s. We have to want that, to want that intensely, if we are to be his. We have to want to be his more than we want any of the things that hinder us from being God’s. And what profit will there be if we keep those things and lose our life?

And with those two things, we have all we need. With those two things, we say to God, “Make your face to shine upon your servant, * and in your loving-kindness save me.”[2] And, it will be done. We have seen it today. For as surely as Jesus died upon the cross, he kept his promise to the Second Criminal.


[1] BCP, page 272.

[2] Psalm 31:16.