There was an interesting article that appeared in this past week’s news. It was 1980 and Jimmy Carter was in the White House, bedeviled by a hostage crisis in Iran that had paralyzed his presidency and hampered his effort to win a second term. Mr. Carter’s best chance for victory was to free the 52 Americans held captive before Election Day. That was something that Ben Barnes said his mentor, former Texas governor, John B. Connally, Jr was determined to prevent. Continue reading

The Disciples Prepare Passover

17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”  18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.’”  19 The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. (26:17-19)

Despite the intrigue, these verses show us Jesus in charge of the situation. He knew the priests’ purpose before they had formulated it (v. 2), and he is already well aware of Judas’ role (vv. 21–25). He now initiates the process which will lead without interruption to its climax on the cross. Its context, we are not allowed to forget, is the Passover, and it is with Jesus’ ‘Passover’ meal, giving startling new meaning to a familiar ritual, that the process begins. Continue reading

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests  15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver,  16 and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. (26:14-16

There is only one previous reference to Judas (10:4) – even there we were informed that Judas betrayed Jesus.  In these few verses we discover the nature of that betrayal: (a) it is at Judas’ initiative, and (b) Judas asks for money.  The text gives no reason for the betrayal, but the actions stand in stark contrast to the woman (26:6-13) who has just anointed Jesus’ head – something Jesus identifies as a preparation for burial – which Judas is seemingly arranging. Continue reading

The Passion: Introduction and Context

On the sixth Sunday during Lent we have a unique liturgical feature: two gospels. At the start of the Mass, there is a gospel proclaimed that recalls Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the event we remember as “Palm Sunday.” What follows the reading of that gospel is a procession which serves as the entry of the priest celebrant into the sanctuary. The celebration of the Mass continues. Then, as part of the Liturgy of the Word, there is a second gospel proclaimed: the Passion narrative.  It is the proclamation of the two gospels that gives the Sunday its formal name. While we often refer to it as Palm Sunday, the correct title of the celebration is “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.” Continue reading

The Passion Narrative: the plan

This week the posts focus on the Passion Narrative from Matthew’s gospel which will be proclaimed this coming Sunday on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. As you well know it is a long reading. And so I have broken the commentary on the gospel into 18 posts spread from today until Saturday morning. And still some of the posts will be long, e.g. the arrest of Jesus and his crucifixion. Over the course of the week you can expect that there will be 3-4 posts per day. I hope this makes reading the commentary a little more manageable.