Tuesday, March 30 – A Voice Crying Out – By Jan Wood Daly
This passage focuses on Jesus’ grief and anger – grief as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, and anger as he confronts the moneychangers in the temple. Instead of celebrating or expressing joy when overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus weeps. The Greek word here for weep is “klaio” – to sob, wail, lament, or cry out in anguish. Jesus laments because, as much as he loves the people of Jerusalem, he knows that they have rejected God’s way and are lost in sin; and because of this, they will suffer. Jerusalem will not be a place of peace or justice, but a place of destruction. Jesus sobs with grief, anger and exasperation over the tragic loss. After entering Jerusalem, Jesus goes to the temple where he drives out the moneychangers, turning over their tables, shouting at them, “You are a den of robbers!” This Jesus who sobs and shouts – this is not the Jesus with whom we are familiar or comfortable.
The first Holy Week was not a time of quiet reflection. It was filled with sobbing, shouting, struggling and suffering. It was a bloody mess. But the Church has sanitized Holy Week. There are shouts of “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday – but then, all goes quiet. We sit in quiet contemplation as we observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is only on Easter Sunday that we shout, “Hallelujah! Christ is risen!”
This passage reminds us that the time for shouting is not on Easter morning, but on the days leading up to it. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus is in agony, sweating blood. The disciples are sleeping – Jesus admonishes them, “Get up and pray!” A disciple cuts off a soldier’s ear. Jesus rebukes him. The soldiers seize Jesus. Good Friday is filled with shouts of “Crucify!” Jesus’ disciples are terrified. Jesus cries out to God, “Why have you abandoned me?” But on Easter morning, all is quiet. The women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. They find the tomb empty, and are told that Jesus is not there. Mark 16:8 says, “Trembling and bewildered, the women fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
When it comes to Holy Week, we seem to have things backwards. We are quiet when we should be shouting; we are shouting when we should be quiet. I am challenged by this thought – perhaps you are, too. We’re not sure what to do with this grieving, angry Jesus. The question for us in this discomfort is: Can we allow the story of Holy Week, with all of its sobbing and shouting, to rouse us from our quiet contemplation? Jesus is still sobbing and shouting – in the voices of those who are struggling and suffering. Let us join our voices with all those who cry out for peace and justice, for hope and healing. May God’s Kin-dom come.
God of struggle and suffering, help us to express our grief and anger, and support those who cry out in anguish. Remind us that what makes this week truly holy is not quiet observation, but entering into the mess of the world around us. Do not abandon us, God, and may we not abandon those who lament. We commit our spirits into your hands. Amen.