Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Prodigal Thief

 Continued from the prior class.

So after the Last Supper, where did everyone go? To the Garden. Yes, the Garden of...G-E-S-T-H Gesthemane! Yes. And what did Jesus do? He prayed. And what did Jesus ask the Apostles do? To pray too. Yes, to watch and pray. And what did Jesus pray for? He didn't want to die. Yes. "He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." And what was God's answer to this prayer? No? Right; God said No. I remind myself when I pray for something that if God could tell Jesus No, he can tell me No.

Then Jesus went to check on the apostles; guess what they were doing. Sleeping? Yes! "...he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?"  Then he went to pray some more; "again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy." Guess how many times he found them sleeping? 3 times!  Yes! Tell me, doing or saying something 3 times makes or breaks a...contract! Yes! So the apostles showed they'd rather snooze than pray with Jesus. Does anyone know what Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is? No? Who knows what this gold thing is [I draw a monstrance]...yes? It's what they put Communion in. Yes, it's called a monstrance; not like monster, but like demonstrate. It means to show. This center part is glass so it shows Jesus in the Eucharist. Some parishes have what's called an Adoration chapel; usually about the size of a dining room. It's open 24 hours a day, and has a monstrance placed on a little altar. People sign up for an hour at a time to watch and pray in these chapels with Jesus, partly because the apostles were too sleepy on that Thursday night. If anyone in your family does Adoration, you might go with them sometime; it's very peaceful, and the hour passes quicker than you might think. You can help make up for the snoozing apostles.

Right after Jesus found them sleeping for the third time, he was arrested and taken to the chief priests of the Temple, who wanted the Romans to get rid of Jesus. The High Priest said "tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Remind me, Christ is Greek for...Messiah! Yes, the Anointed One. "Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Jesus is quoting Daniel again about himself: sitting beside God the Father, coming down from heaven. It's like Jesus saying he's God. The high priest goes nuts! "Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death."

So they took him to the Roman governor...P-O-N- Pontius Pilate, yes. But Pilate didn't think Jesus was a threat to Rome. He sent Jesus to King Herod, the son of the King Herod who killed all the babies when Jesus was born.  Herod was the King of Judea, the King of the Jews, but he was outranked by Pilate. Herod didn't have a problem with Jesus either, and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate was ready to release Jesus, but the priests said no. What did Pilate do to Jesus, hoping the priests would feel sorry for him and agree that he could be let go? He whipped him! Yes. But what did the priests and the crowd yell for to happen to Jesus? Crucify him! Yes. Now what day is this? Thursday? That was the night before. Friday? Yes, and the next day is...Saturday. In Hebrew please...the Sabbath. And this is a special Sabbath...the Lamb business...Passover!  Yes! "Now at the [Passover] feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted.  And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas." What's notorious? Bad?  Yes...famously bad. "So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up." What's envy mean? Jealous? Yes. The priests were jealous that people followed Jesus, and thought he was the Messiah; and that he knew the Scriptures better than they did; and that he seemed righteous when he knocked over the tables earlier in the week. Jesus aggravated them and they were fed up. But Pilate didn't want to do what was right, which would have let Jesus go! Yes. He wanted to do what was convenient. So he let the crowd choose between Jesus and Barabbas and they chose...Barabbas! Yes. And what did Pilate do to show it wasn't his problem? He washed his hands? Yes. He wanted to show that his hands were clean of this dirty business; he said, "I am innocent of this righteous man's blood;" but he was the person in charge, not the crowd; he wasn't innocent.

Now when Jesus was arrested on Thursday night, what did the apostles do? Run away! Yes, they were all scared. Later that night some people recognized Peter as a friend of Jesus. What did Peter say? He wasn't Jesus's friend. many times did he say that? Three times!  Yes, so he's breaking...a contract!  Yes...what contract? Umm, to be Jesus's friend?  Yes, to be his disciple, his follower; Peter had told Jesus at the Last Supper he'd stick with him and even die for him. But Peter, whose name means...Rock, yes, ran off and even told people he didn't know who Jesus was. Some Rock.

About noon on Friday the Roman soldiers took Jesus up to a hill called Golgotha to be crucified between two thieves. While he was hanging there people made fun of him: "Hey Jesus, if you're the Messiah, why don't you get yourself offa that cross; why don't you get Elijah to come save you? Huh? Huh? C'mon Son of God, get down off the cross and we'll believe in ya!" Just terrible how mean people were to him. Jesus was treated like the Suffering Servant that Isaiah had prophesied. And "One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "...this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." The second man is called the Good Thief...why? 'Cause he told Jesus he was sorry? Yes, genius! He repented of his sins and had a...change...of heart! Yes! "And [Jesus] said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." I like to imagine the Good Thief and Jesus on their crosses: hot, sweaty, thirsty, dirty, bloody, big nails hammered into them, flies buzzing around their heads. And how happy they would both be: the Good Thief repents, and Jesus forgives him. I bet for a few minutes they were as happy as the Prodigal Son and his Daddy.

Then Jesus saw his mother Mary with the youngest apostle, John. John was pretty brave to be with Jesus; he was the only apostle there. Because Jesus didn't have any brothers or sisters, who would take care of his mom when he died? Didn't he get John to do it? Yes, what did Jesus say? Umm...behold your mother? Yes, and to Mary he said...behold your son? Yes, good. Then Jesus said he was thirsty...tell me. They gave him some wine in a sponge? Yes, how'd they get it up to his mouth? On a spear? Close, but no. A stick? Yes.

At about 3 o'clock Jesus died. "Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." If tomorrow is the Passover feast what's being prepared today? The food? Yes which includes...lambs? Yes, so what's the first step with the lambs? To cook them! Before that. To kill them? Yes. And John the Baptist called Jesus...the Lamb of God, yes and at the same time that the Old Covenant lambs are being killed, the New Covenant being killed too! Yes. And when Jewish people had an Old Covenant priest kill and offer up a lamb for their sins, what would happen? They'd be forgiven? Yes; sacrificing the lamb atones for the sins. And how about when the New Covenant Lamb was sacrificed on the cross? Our sins are forgiven? Almost; the sins are atoned for. We still have to ask for forgiveness, though. Trick question: who offers sacrifices for sinners? Priests. Yes; trickier question: who offered up the New Covenant Lamb? Well, the Romans killed him. Yes, but as Jesus said, they didn't know what they were doing; when was Jesus's body and blood offered to God, not killed? Umm, at the Last Supper? Yes. So who was the priest? Jesus? Yes. But how can he do that? Do what? Be the priest if he gets killed. Well, what we understand is that Jesus is the priest and the victim. That way we have a perfect priest and and a perfect victim to atone for all sins forever. But they're the same person. It's different from sacrificing an animal.

Back to the story: the Jews don't want these crucified guys "hanging around" on Passover, it's not dignified. They ask the Romans to break their legs so they'll hurry up and die before Passover starts. "So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs." I think the soldiers beat the thieves' shinbones like you'd hit a baseball with a bat, just as hard as you can until they were broken like toothpicks. Ewww, gross! No kidding. But Jesus looked dead so they didn't break his legs. That way he'd be a perfect lamb; God wouldn't accept lambs that were sick, mangy or had broken legs. Then what did a soldier do to be sure Jesus was dead? Stick a spear in him?  Yes; and what came out? Blood and water!  Yes, genius, you remembered the water. Does anyone remember what Moses and Levite priests used to sprinkle blood and water on people? It was a bunch of sticks. Yes, remember what kind of sticks? H-Y-S- Hyssop!  Yes. John's gospel says a hyssop stick was used to raise the wine-soaked sponge up to Jesus's mouth. So there's hyssop, blood and water when Jesus is sacrificed. That's like those Old Testament rituals when a priest would kill a bird over a pot of water, and use hyssop to sprinkle that mixture on people or homes, like so: "take the...hyssop...along with the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the bird that was killed and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times." John's Gospel is careful to show these same things at the crucifixion so people will know Jesus's sacrifice connects to the old way of sacrificing. Trick question: how do we get sprinkled with the blood of the New Covenant Lamb? When do get sprinkled with anything? At Mass we get sprinkled sometimes. Yes. Any other time water gets on us? At baptism?  Yes. In both those cases we're sprinkled with water, but the blood is included in the water because...what came out of Jesus? Blood and water! Yes. So if we're sprinkled with the water, it includes...the blood. Yes; the blood of the...Lamb! Yes.

Later on Friday Jesus was taken down and placed in a tomb: "After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus...asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there."

Class continues in the next post.