St. Mark’s account of the Passion is characterized by his use of irony throughout the narrative.
At the very beginning of the story, he relates the story of the woman who anoints Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper. Those who witness it are indignant about the cost of the ointment that the woman has “wasted” on Jesus. The money used to purchase the ointment and the alabaster jar could have been used for the poor. She has clearly gone too far, done too much, expended far too much. Yet no one upon witnessing Jesus’ sacrificial death even gives a thought to how much Jesus is willing to do to rescue us from our sins.
In the garden when the cohort comes to arrest Jesus, Mark tells us that the disciples all fled the scene lest they be arrested with Jesus. He includes the story of a young man who runs away naked when he is apprehended by the soldiers, literally leaving everything behind in order to get away from Jesus. In the very first chapter, Mark wrote that the disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Now the opposite is true.
When Jesus is brought before Caiaphas and tried for breaking the Law of Moses, no two witnesses can agree. No two witnesses, which is required by the Law of Moses in order to condemn someone to death, can testify to the same thing. So in condemning Jesus of breaking the Law, they break it themselves.
As Jesus hangs on the cross, the chief priests and the scribes are heard to say, “He saved others, let him save himself.” Do they even realize that they have admitted that Jesus has saved others?
Finally, when Jesus dies, it is a Roman centurion, a pagan who does not even believe in God, who attests that Jesus must have been the Son of God.
Indeed, St. Mark’s pen has been dipped in irony throughout the Passion narrative. As we listen to the story once again, let us ask ourselves if we have done enough for Jesus. Have we failed to follow Jesus and pursued worldly wealth instead? Have we claimed to keep the commandments, or have we only said that we are faithful to God’s will? Do we accept Jesus as our Savior? Do we acknowledge him as God incarnate?
If we cannot give an affirmative answer to these questions. Is it possible that Jesus has indeed done too much for the sake of our sins?
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator