Today’s reading provides another lens through which we are invited to see the Passion narrative. Paul wrote, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” as a conclusion to a passage in which he called the community to “compassion and sympathy,” telling them to regard “others as better” and to look “to the interests of others” (see Philippians 2:1-4). This call is rooted not in some commonsense morality or in any particular political commitment, but in the nature and mission of Christ.
According to this ancient hymn, Christ was “in the form of God” and equal with God. This affirmation is consistent with the ancient creedal witness of the church that insists that Jesus Christ is “of one being with the Father” and fully human (see the Nicene Creed). Note what God does: “emptying himself” and “taking the form of a servant” even unto cruel death on a cross. Knowing and serving God means walking in this way of self-emptying.
How does one do that? This is particularly difficult for those of us who’ve learned to cherish our achievements and defend hard-won turf. Hearing the call of the Passion liturgy isn’t about somehow rehearsing the events of the Crucifixion; it is about actively engaging the suffering of the world—its fears and anguish—and interceding with our words and with our actions. And yes, this gospel tells us the truth. Having the mind of Christ means sacrificing, loosening our grip on our achievements and positions. Can you imagine that not as burden or deprivation but as an invitation to a new level of freedom? If you believe that this is the way of God, then you can trust the journey that Holy Week sets before us.
Gracious God, help us to find your way of freedom in lives of service. Amen.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Psalm 118 is a song of rejoicing, yet it also includes the prophecy that the cornerstone must experience rejection. Isaiah speaks of physical suffering, of being beaten, disgraced, and spat on. We see elements of this in the Gospel reading, where Luke describes the final moments of Jesus’ life. Bloodied and beaten, Jesus hangs on the cross and breathes his last. In Philippians, Paul places this drama within the eternal narrative of God’s redeeming work. Jesus leaves his rightful place and becomes flesh. He experiences pain and suffering, even the most humiliating form of death, crucifixion. Jesus can empathize with our suffering because he has suffered. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does the Suffering Servant speak to your life today?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you hear differently the familiar verses of this psalm when you read them together?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Do you find it paradoxical to live as a beloved child of God and as a servant? If so, how do you live in this paradox?
Read Luke 22:14–23:56. How do you experience the extreme emotional highs and lows of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, even knowing how it will all turn out?
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