- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Roderick D. McKee at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beltsville.

Narrator: When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles. He said to them,

Father McKee: "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God."

N: Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and said,

M: "Take this and share it among yourselves …

N. After arresting [Jesus, the soldiers] led Him away …

Crowd: "We found this man misleading our people; He opposes the paying of taxes to Caesar and maintains that He is the Christ, a king." …

Pilate: "I find this man not guilty."

N: But they were adamant and said,

C: "He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here." …

P: "I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found the man guilty of the charges you have brought against Him… . Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.

N: But all together they shouted out,

C: "Away with this man… . Crucify Him. Crucify Him." …

N: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him [and then] Jesus said,

M: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." …

N: It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

M: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

N: And when He said this he breathed His last… . When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened they returned home beating their breasts.

Father McKee: The journey of our Lenten season has brought us all to Jerusalem with Jesus. We have been refreshed, reconciled and renewed through Lent.

In the reading of His passion today we have walked with Jesus, full of faith, hope and expectations, through his death and resurrection. We have found in His sacrifice life and eternal peace as God's beloved.

Yet we must not forget all those others who we must take with us on our journey. We look to Jesus and His example, and ask ourselves, "Can we carry a cross in our lives? Can we love the people as Jesus did, even when He was forsaken and condemned to death?"

May we love the people; we must invite them on the Easter journey.

Our journey will go through Good Friday, with the Easter vigil that marks Christ's death, and finally His triumphal rising from the tomb.

At the Easter vigil, we will open the triptych, which in its five painted images convey how Christ's resurrection has freed Adam and Eve, representing sinful humanity, from the tomb. We have been freed by His suffering and death, so let us not forget all the people whom He loved, even those who rejected Him.

May we find time in our prayers and celebration to recall the depth of Jesus' love and mercy. It will fill our hearts.

We gather on this Palm Sunday to remember what Jesus has done to satisfy our spiritual needs.

This is a beautiful time of year. The Eucharist of Holy Thursday will call us to be loving servants, as He was in His final days with the disciples. The Easter vigil will be for us a symbol of our own resurrection with Christ by the waters of baptism.

May our prayers go to all those who are being baptized, and may we take the opportunity of this season to renew our own baptismal covenants. We shall once again say, "Yes, Jesus, we believe in your death and resurrection."

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Robert Wenz at Derwood Alliance Church in Derwood, Md.

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