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Passion (Palm) Sunday (Ages 6-9): The Promise of Until

Passion Sunday, Year A

  • 6-9 year olds


(Adults, begin by reading aloud the portion of the Gospel provided here, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)

Matthew 26:17-32

(full reading: Matthew 26.14 - 27.66)


This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week when, all over the world, the Church thinks deeply about the events of Jesus' dying and rising to new life. This Sunday we hear two Gospel readings: Jesus entering Jerusalem while the crowds wave palm branches, and St. Matthew's whole account of Jesus' Passion from the Last Supper to his death. There is a lot to wonder about.


St. Matthew's account of the Passion is very long, and every year as I hear of each event drawing Jesus closer to death, I hope that something different will occur.

That Judas will hear Jesus call him friend, and will veer off in another direction, leading the soldiers away.

That Peter will find his courage that has fled, and will speak up and say, of course I know that man! Jesus is my Saviour!

That Pilate will listen to his wife and listen to his heart and will tell everyone to go home, there will be no crucifixion today.

But of course, that doesn't happen.


It is a very helpless feeling to listen to these events and not be able to change them. Each day we hear about the events taking place in our world right now and we cannot stop them either. The little that we can do--stay at home, wash our hands--seems too little, it seems not enough. I wonder if that is how Jesus' friends feel as the events of Jesus' suffering and death sweep over them, rapidly carrying Jesus off, getting worse and worse until he dies.


When I listen to the Gospel, one thing that Jesus says, really jumps out at me. When Jesus is at the Passover meal with his friends, when he gives himself completely to them in the bread and in the wine, he then says,

I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Never again. That has a terrible sound, doesn't it? Never again. This is the last time. The disciples must hear that and feel their hearts sink. Never again. As they walk with him through the darkened city of Jerusalem out to the Garden of Olives, those words must ring in their ears, must accompany their footsteps. Never again. Never again. When they see him refuse to drink the wine offered to him as he hangs thirsty on the cross, those words must thump along with their pounding hearts. Never. Again. Never.


Again.



But I wonder if, maybe not until the dark hours after his death, they remember the other words that he spoke, the words containing the promise.

I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Until. I admit, I am fascinated by this word. It means, don't you think, that something is yet to come? The story is not over yet.


Until that day. What day does Jesus mean? A day that is yet to come. A day that is still coming.


What will that day be like? I drink it new with you. Jesus will drink wine with his friends. In the bible, drinking wine is so often a sign of joy.


So who are his friends with whom he is drinking this wine? With you. We hear these words in the Word of God. The Word of God is for us. Could Jesus mean he will drink wine with us, too? (If you don't like wine, I'm pretty sure Jesus will give you something you do like.)


But where is this all taking place? In my Father’s kingdom. The Kingdom of God! We know that Jesus spends a lot of time talking about the Kingdom of God. Here he is, the night before his death, speaking of the kingdom again. All those parables he talks about, all those miracles he performs, they point to this. He will die, but he will also be full of joy with his friends in his Father's kingdom.


This brings us back to when. When will this be? We know the story of Jesus' passion does not end with his death. We know the good news is that Jesus is Risen. So, is Jesus drinking wine now with his friends? Or is he still waiting?


I wonder.


St. Matthew tells us that before the soldiers arrive and everything goes so terribly wrong, Jesus reminds his disciples of words of scripture:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Scattering the sheep is not a hopeful thought. We recall the wolf scattering the sheep in the parable of the Good Shepherd. Why is he mentioning those words of scripture? But Jesus is not finished. Immediately he says,

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.

We know that the Good Shepherd always,

goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)

Before the terrible events begin, Jesus reminds his friends of the parable of the Good Shepherd. So what else does that parable tell us?

So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)

So. In these words there is promise. Jesus is still at work, now that he is raised up, calling all the sheep into one flock.

When will there be one flock all together with the Good Shepherd? When the Kingdom of God is complete. We call this time Parousia. Perhaps Parousia is the day for which Jesus is waiting to drink wine new with his friends in the Kingdom of God.


Is this just another name for heaven? Perhaps.


Can we see signs of Parousia now, in the midst of the pandemic? As we stay at home and we wash our hands, doing our little part, can we experience the joy of the Kingdom of God? Be on the lookout, will you, for signs of the Kingdom? Children are the best by far, at seeing the Kingdom. Jesus said so.


And like the disciples who, in the long hours after Jesus dies waiting for the joy of the resurrection, recall his words,

until that day

we will hang on to the promise. That day is coming.

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