Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 26:14 – 27:66
THE REV. JAMES M. L. GRACE
What is left to say that has not already been said? Jesus gave everything – his life – for us. Was it worth it?
Author Brennan Manning tells a story of an aged monk who would meditate every morning on the banks of the Ganges River. One morning after finishing his meditation the monk opened his eyes to see a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As dangerous a creature as it was, its struggle to remain afloat was strangely beautiful. Moved by compassion, the monk reached out his long arm to try and rescue the drowning creature.
But as soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the monk withdrew his hand, but a minute later put his hurting hand back into the water to again try to save the scorpion from drowning. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with his poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody.
While this was going on, another person walking down the road beside the river saw the monk lying on the ground grimacing with pain. The person walking by stopped and said “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion? What’s the point?”
The monk turned his head toward the person and said, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”
It is in God’s nature to save – everything, I believe. Everything that God has created, every person, everything, I believe will be saved. Like a scorpion we might try to sting that hand trying to save us, but while others give up on us God does not.
That is what Holy Week is all about – the limit God travels to save every one of us, no matter how many times we have stung others with our thoughts, words, or actions. The power of Holy Week, is that there is nothing a person can do that is outside the possibility for God’s forgiveness. Sin becomes nothing more but another opportunity for God to forgive.
This morning a news alert appeared on my phone that two Coptic Christian churches near Cairo, Egypt were bombed during their Palm Sunday services. At least thirty six people were killed. We mourn and pray for them today. And as we do so, we are faced with a terrifying proposition. Is it possible for God to reach out his or her hand to the perpetrator of those crimes – the person who murdered all those people – to forgive? Would the same God who freely went to the cross, and forgave those crucifying him, have the same capacity to forgive today, a person with an agenda of religiously motivated hatred?
If you have heard the Gospel today, then you already know the answer. AMEN.