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

(full reading: Matthew 26.14 - 27.66)

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

 
 

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. These give us a lot to wonder about.


St. Matthew's account of the Passion is very long, and every year as we listen to each event drawing Jesus closer to death, we 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 does not happen.


It feels helpless to listen to these events and not be able to change them. Perhaps Jesus' friends feel helpless as the events of Jesus' suffering and death sweep over them, rapidly carrying Jesus off, getting worse and worse until he dies.


At the beginning of these events, before it gets so bad, Jesus celebrates the Passover meal with his friends. He gives himself completely to them in the bread and in the wine. Then he 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, does it not?

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 Jesus refuse to drink 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 perhaps—maybe not until the dark hours after his death—they remember the other words he says, 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.

Until is fascinating. It means, does it not, that something is yet to come? The story is not over yet. Do the apostles hear this promise?


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?

Until that day 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 these friends with whom Jesus drinks the wine of joy?

With you, he says. With whom?

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? (Or if we do not like wine, some other way to celebrate our joy? 😊)


And where will this all take 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, the night before his death, he speaks 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 does he still wait?


We 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. The wolf scatters the sheep in the parable of the Good Shepherd. Why does Jesus mention these 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 waits to drink wine new with his friends in the Kingdom of God.


Is this just another name for heaven? Perhaps. Perhaps not.


Can we see signs of Parousia even now as we celebrate Holy Week?

As we go about our lives, making good choices, can we experience the joy of the Kingdom of God? We can be on the lookout for signs of the Kingdom—for the sign of joy. Children are best, by far, at seeing the Kingdom. Jesus says so.


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

until that day

we hang on to that promise. That day is coming.

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