Mark, in his Gospel, portrays Jesus as abandoned by all. The priests turn against Him (Mk 15:1-3). Soldiers mock Him (Mk 15:16-20). So do the thieves crucified on either side of Him (Mk 15:32). His disciples fall asleep while Jesus is praying in the garden, then they abandon Him and flee when He is arrested (Mk 14:37ff, 50). Judas even betrays Him while pretending to show affection for Jesus (Mk 14:45). Finally, after suffering hours of agony, Jesus quotes Psalm 22:2, possibly to confirm the sense of utter abandonment, and then dies.
At the foot of Jesus' cross stands the Roman centurion, a military man who commanded one hundred soldiers. He bore the responsibility of certifying to the Roman leadership that the crucified men in his charge were truly dead. The centurion had undoubtedly observed numerous crucifixions, and was accustomed to observing the ignominious death of defeated enemies. Jesus' crucifixion likewise pointed to abject failure and abandonment. By human standards, we would expect the centurion to exclaim: "What a failure! What a fraud! He got what He deserved." Instead the centurion declared, "Clearly this Man was the Son of God!" (Mk 15:39)
The centurion's declaration is the "punch line" of Mark's Gospel. Get the point. Accept Jesus as Lord, Savior, and God. Then live in a manner worthy of one for whom God has died. Have a holy Holy Week.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from April 1, 2009 through May 31, 2009.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 3, 2008.