PALM SUNDAY
Sunday, April 9
Sean Gordon Lewis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
 

God Is Dead and We Have Killed Him

 

“I am innocent of this man’s blood.” -Matthew 27: 24

 

The readings for Passion (Palm) Sunday are inexhaustibly rich, containing the most vital episode of the story of our Redemption: the loving, sacrificial death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s death was allowed to happen by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and Pilate’s words are particularly worthy of consideration. Pilate clearly knows that Jesus Christ is innocent, both through his own reasoning (Matt 27:18) and through the prophetic dream of his wife (Matt 27:19).  Yet even with this knowledge, Pilate literally washes his hands of the whole affair, claiming to be innocent of the Blood of Jesus. 

 

How easy it is for us to take this stance: We are not a part of the evil and injustice that surrounds us. We surely are not guilty of the Blood of Jesus.  Our Catholic faith, however, teaches us in certain terms that we are all guilty. We cannot blame the Romans or the leaders of the   Jewish people or any other people for the death of Jesus: We are to blame.  For a believing Christian, part of Nietzsche’s nihilistic proclamation is actually true: God is dead, and we have killed Him (The Gay Science, sec. 125).

 

But God, in His superabundant love and mercy, is not content to remain dead. As we shall soon experience in the Easter Liturgy, God has raised Himself, and has given Himself the name which is above every other name (Phil. 2:9). If we die with the Lord, if we recognize our own role in His death (both the death He died once and the deaths He experiences daily in human suffering), if we repent of our sins and turn to Him, then we shall rise with Him, through suffering into glory.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your suffering and death to redeem me and all of the world.  Help me to recognize my own sins, to turn from them, and to participate in Your saving love by loving You and my neighbor, from this day until the days of my own death and resurrection. Amen.

 

Is 50:4-7           Ps 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24   Phil 2:6-11    Mt 27:11-54 or Mt 26:14-27:66