The Suffering Servant
Palm Sunday, Year B
In today’s gospel, Jesus, by his silent fortitude, plays the role of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). Deserted by his disciples, condemned by religious and secular authorities, Jesus dies quite alone with a cry of desolation. It is only after his death that the prayer he raised to Abba God in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-36) receives an answer: the veil of the temple is torn and the centurion declares, “Truly, this was God’s Own.”
Many LGBTQ people and allies lead lives of hushed fortitude. Their identities remain a secret, and stories of being deserted by family or condemned by religious and secular authorities are all too common. Prayers may feel like they go unanswered, and sadly, oftentimes, death is the only catalyst by which justice or recognition is accorded them.
In playing the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, though, Jesus fulfills scripture triumphantly and the Reign of God is initiated. In Romans 8:18, Saint Paul writes, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.” With such a joyful promise in store, how might we lift up our LGBTQ/ally lives this Holy Week and acclaim, “Blessed is the coming reign of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10)?
- As an LGBTQ person/ally were you ever placed in a position where you had to defend yourself or the way you live your life? What were some of the accusations levied against you? How did you respond? What advice might you have for those still forced to keep their identity or way of life a secret? What do you think are the reasons why some may choose not to recognize you as “God’s Own?”
- In the Gospel, Jesus’ trial runs through both religious and secular courts. How have you navigated your LGBTQ/ally identity in areas of Church and State. Where have you found sympathetic allies in each of them?
- In wishing to “satisfy the crowd,” Pilate displays his vacillating character. After having ordered Jesus’ crucifixion, he also washes his hands off the responsibility of Jesus’ death. Have you ever experienced a situation when your faith, fate, employment status, or safety was in peril because of weak and evasive leaders? How might you speak your truth to power?
- The cast of characters who are allies to Jesus’ Passion are notably conspicuous in the Gospel of Mark (the woman with the jar of perfumed oil, Simon of Cyrene, and the “owner of the house” (where the Last Supper was held), amongst others). Who have been your greatest allies “spreading their cloaks or leafy branches on the road” for you? How have allies participated in your “Passion?”
- “At three, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” What has been your prayer during the darkest times of your life as an LGBTQ person/ally? Where in scripture do you seek reassurance, comfort and affirmation?
- “When the centurion who stood guard over Jesus saw how he died, declared, “Truly this was God’s Own!“” Have people repented for any words or offenses against you? How have you forgiven them? If you are unable to forget the hurt or harm caused you, how might you find peace and healing?
- How might you revisit your beliefs, principles or ideologies that may prevent you from participating fully in God’s Reign? How can Holy Week be an examination of conscience for you?
The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 14, opens with the words, “So the chief priests and scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.“ The Sanhedrin was speaking, of course, of Jesus. This premeditated and calculated plot, alternatively, could well have been the frame-up against Babatunde Scott-Ashley, a gay Nigerian, persecuted, beaten-up and detained for his identity.
Because his country refused to see him as “God’s Own,” Scott-Ashley, aged 27, is forced to flee his homeland and seek asylum in the United States of America.
This video is a story of his trials.