A Reflection for Passion Sunday
Br. Seraphim Mary, OSF
The Gospel for Passion Sunday gives us the smoking gun in the criminal case against Jesus of Nazareth. He is going to be executed for his crime in about twelve days. It is extremely important that we understand that Jesus was not the victim of a miscarriage of human justice. He was beyond a reasonable doubt guilty of the crime with which he was first charged. Getting that point is the key to understanding what the spiritual and cosmic ramifications of his crucifixion are.
The sin of blasphemy is insulting God or invoking God's name in a less than serious way. God revealed his personal name to Moses at the burning bush. His name is, "I AM." To say the divine name, no matter how reverently, was to commit blasphemy. Jesus not only said the name, but also applied it to himself when he answered the crowd, "Before Abraham was I am." He had committed blasphemy. The penalty for blasphemy was death.
Under the arrangement with the occupying Roman government, the Jews were not allowed to execute anyone. To have Jesus done away with would require finding him guilty of a capital crime under Roman law. How they did that is a story for another day--another day soon.
The fact that God himself could be convicted of a capital crime under his own law, showed the obvious limitations of that law. Jesus committed blasphemy, but he was telling the truth at the same time. As a man he was barely, thirty years old. As God he had existed long before Abraham.
The Lord Jesus Christ was executed because he could not deny the reality of his Incarnation--that God himself had become a human being so he could save the world. Jesus would not deny it even to save his own life, So St. Paul. calls his execution, "Unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."