Sermon: Love, Defined.
St. Paul’s – Brookings
Fr. Larry Ort
Psalm 118.1, 2, 19-29; Mark 11.1-11a//Isaiah 50.4-9a; Psalm 31.9-16; Philippians 2.5-11; Mark 14.1 – 15.47
What tension! What opposites we encounter in this service! On the one hand, Jesus enters Jerusalem in a triumphal procession riding on a donkey while palm branches and their cloaks are placed on the ground before him. He is being hailed as the messiah, as a king. Yet within hours he is betrayed, arrested, and crucified like a common criminal, a thief.
Ron Rolheiser reveals another way of perceiving this tension. Up until the close of the last supper, up until the time he left the room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, Jesus had spent his entire ministry acting for others through healing diseases and infirmities, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, teaching a new way of life, and discipling the apostles. As Rolheiser puts it, “From the time he walked out of the last supper room and began to pray in Gethsemane, that activity stops. He is no longer the one who is doing things for others, but the one who is having things done to him. In the garden, they arrest him, bind his hands, lead him to the high priest, then to Pilate. He is beaten, humiliated, stripped of his clothes, and eventually nailed to a cross where he dies. This constitutes his “passion,” that time in his life and ministry where he ceases to be the doer and becomes the one who has things done to him” (http://liturgy.slu.edu/PassionB032518/reflections_rolheiser.html).
Acting for others – being acted upon. I have long defined love as acting for or on behalf of others in ways that are mutually beneficial. When Jesus acted for others, he acted out of love. When he suffered at the hands of others, when acted upon, when he suffered the hatred of others, his love did not cease. He did not curse them as would most, if not all of us. He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” Through the cross, Jesus Christ emptied himself, and became as one of us that he might love us and show us how to love one another. He showed us the power of love, and in doing so, he reconciled unto God those who choose to believe in him and live in love. Let us think on these things as we move into Holy Week. Amen