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March 25, 1994     The Message
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March 25, 1994

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25, 1994 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 11 "Commentary-- Sources of the passion narrative: Mark and Isaiah tary for Passion (Palm) Cycle B: The Passion of accord- and final Sunday of n, formerly known is now called Pas- Palm Sunday took its- a statement found only of John, that the Jesus at his en- carried palm they brought the fields, in cut from trees, while in Luke at all. The name Passion taken from the Latin word "passio" mean- e name "passion" has taken on in our language. We need to of the basic meaning of this word. The flso used of the narrative or story and death, a story handed down rent versions in our four gospels four gospels were written from 40 to death of Jesus, we may legiti- whether or not our gospels present us accurate narrative. A careful ons leaves us with the prob- them. Rather than at- them agree we should understand of our gospels did not intend accurate hccount of what hap- story was presented in such a way as the meaning of Jesus' suffering way it will not matter whether By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST they agree or not. They agree in the historical core of the story, that Jesus of Nazareth was executed by crucifixion sometime in the first third of the first century of the Christian era. from that core the four authors go in sometimes very different directions to give meaning to Jesus' death for the Christian community for which they were writing. That meaning can be quite different depending not only on the personal theology of the author, but also on the circumstances of the community for which the author wrote. If they wrote so long after Jesus' death, where did they get their material, the basic structure of their story, the ideas which they developed into a theology of Jesus' death? The basic structure of the story would have come from traditions handed down among Jesus' earliest disciples who in turn told the story to the communities which they founded to perpetuate the memory of Jesus and to perpetuate what they by now were convinced to have been his mission. Other material would have come from statements made by Jesus and pre- served, though sometimes quite differently, by the various Christian communities. Perhaps the most important ideas came from their Scriptures, the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek translation of those Scriptures. We now refer to those Scriptures as the Old Testament. To early Christians whatever was said in those ancient Scriptures was said with an eye to Jesus of Nazareth, his conception, his birth, his life, his ac- tions and events in his life, and finally his death and resurrection, and return to glory. As they would put it: "To fulfill what was said by the prophet... " The Psalms were important as a source out of which to form the passion narratives or stories, but most important were some poems found in a part of Isaiah we now call Second Isaiah. These poems or songs are known as the Servant Songs. Readers of this column are encouraged to open their Bible and read Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13 to 53:12. These four poems and Psalms such as 22 and 69 are the chief sources used by our four evangelists to develop the meaning of Jesus' suffering and death for their Christian communities and ours. The very words of Jesus are sometimes direct quotes from these sources. Thus in Mark Jesus' last words are a quote from Psalm 22:1, while in Luke they are a quote from Psalm 31:5. Each author gives a different meaning or spin to Jesus' death hy their respective quote. This year we read the Passion According to Mark on this Sunday. Mark, relying on Isaiah, asks us to consider these words of the ancient prophet: "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sor- rows. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our sins. With his stripes we are healed. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep mute before its shearer he did not open his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him. He poured out his soul to death and was :numbered among transgressors. He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for his transgressors." Need we say more? Other readings: Isaiah 50:4.7; Philippians 2:6.11. ilili  your local pro-life organizations addresses, phone num- P/aces, dates, offices, direc- schools, institutions, statistics, financial statistics, assignments  they are all 994 Yearbook of the Catholic of Evansville. may purchase your copy at Center for $7.50. For Orders, include $1.50 for and handling. nm IIll ,, y . 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