Today, the 5th Sunday of Lent begins the season with the Season of Lent known as Passiontide. Traditionally this was the beginning of Holy Week, although, with the liturgical reform, Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday have been joined together.
Passion Sunday was also the traditional time that the color of the vestments changed to purple, and all of the crosses and statues in churches were covered and would remain hidden until the Great Vigil of Easter.
It seems we do not like to meditate on the suffering of Jesus. We do not want to think of suffering but, it is important to recall these events that lead up to Easter. It has been said by many that we cannot celebrate Easter without Good Friday. We cannot have the resurrection without the death of Jesus.
What Passiontide does is invite us to inhabit the experiences of betrayal, abandonment, loneliness, and unjust suffering, to see what causes these things, sin, and to place our hope in the One who redeems them.
But it also enlightens us to what hatred can do. Hate is what nailed Jesus to the cross. Hatred, jealously, and the fear of losing power. All of these conspired together to murder Jesus, and the Religious Authorities of the day were the ones who did it.
Jesus was very hard on the religious leaders of his day. He called them a brood vipers and hypocrites. They were calling the people to do things that they were not doing. They added to the poor’s burden and those on the margins, the very people Jesus came to minister to.
But in the end, Jesus willingly gave himself up for us. This was done because of what St. John wrote in the 3rd chapter of his Gospel, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son Jesus.” We need to look past the blood and the gore of the Crucifixion and see in that scene the love of God, God who was willing to take on our frailty to show us a new way, the way of love.