One of the most exciting things about being a follower of Jesus is to encounter the surprises such discipleship entails. Things didn’t happen exactly the way we anticipate; people didn’t always turn out to be the individuals we think they should be. In today’s reading we read the great Messiah first taking the form of a slave. We also read about the great Messiah riding in on a donkey.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me today is in Mark’s passion narrative. As I listen carefully I notice that, contrary to our Stations of the Cross, he describes Jesus’ psychological sufferings much more than his physical suffering.
I believe that Mark didn’t compose these two chapters to have us “ooh and aah” over the physical pain Jesus endured to redeem us. His goal isn’t just to show us how Jesus suffered and died for us. More than anything else, he wants to give us examples of how we, by imitating Jesus, are to die for others. Like our Jesus, our mentor, we’re to be faithful to one another in spite of desertions, denials and betrayals. We’re constantly being called to give of ourselves even when that giving is rejected and ridiculed. We are called to share and be witness to the abundant light, love, compassion and forgiveness of God. Like Jesus, we’re called to be conscious of the pain of others much more than our own pain. This I believe is the mystery of the cross and crown!
The surprises lurking in Scripture are ongoing and always surface in our own lives when we actually try to imitate Jesus’ dying and rising.