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Gospel for Sunday, March 24: Mark 14:1-15:47

Palm Sunday: Passion of the Lord B

Mk 14:1-15:47

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Commenting on the Passion and Death of Jesus according to Mark would involve a very long meditation. Rather than dwell on some general themes, I have preferred to report some exegetical-spiritual insights for individual passages, to let each person in Holy Week contemplate the “Word of the Cross” (1 Cor. 1:18) in individual or communal prayer.


The Gospel of Mark is “the Gospel of the Cross”: therefore Mark devotes no less than 140 verses out of 678 to the account of the Passion and Death of the Lord. It is in the mystery of the Passion that God is revealed (14:40, 62); it is at his Death that Jesus is recognized as the Son of God (15:39).

1. The anointing at Bethany: 14:3-9

For Mark it is a woman who discovers in Bethany, the “house of the poor,” that Jesus is the afflicted, the sufferer par excellence, and who gives for him “all she could” (14:8). There are several ecclesiological references: a) we are “in the house,” that is, in the Church, where we find a former leper and a prostitute: the Church the place of the poor, of sinners; b) Jesus is the Priest, who lives in community (Sl 133); c) Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Song, who is perfumed by the Bride, the Church (Chr 1:3; 5:5); d) Jesus the King is to be served in the suffering (9:36).

2. Institution of the Eucharist: 14:22-25

(a) During the Passover supper, Jesus first of all performs a “mime,” a prophetic gesture: he gives himself to his own to be “eaten” as the bread and wine; (b) he offers his “body”- basar and his “blood”- wadam: in Hebrew basar-wadam indicates the two parts of the covenant sacrifice: it is the new covenant prophesied by Jer 31:31-34.

3. At Gethsemane: 14:32-42

a) To the disciples whom Jesus wanted with him at the Transfiguration and at the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus asks for solidarity in the supreme hour; b) Jesus experiences to the very depths human finitude, complete failure, and expresses them by quoting Ps 42 and 43; c) Jesus makes a prayer that echoes the “Our Father,” from Mark not quoted: the believer’s true request is always only to do God’s will; d) God’s will is the overcoming of the creaturely limitation that he himself takes upon himself, in the Person of the Son, even unto death; e) the believer often experiences God’s silence; f) in the struggle with God Jacob obtains a new name, Israel (Gen 32); here Jesus proclaims God by a Name that only here resonates in the Gospels: “Abba,” i.e., “Papalino,” “Papi” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).

4. Jesus’ arrest: 14:43-52:

(a) Jesus is “handed over” by Judas, who gives him the disciple’s typical kiss to the Rabbi; (b) Mark does not motivate us about Jesus’ betrayal: it is for him a frequent experience in the life of the individual and the community.

5. Jesus confesses his divinity: 14:53-65

a) The High Priest is Joseph known as Kayepha, the Inquisitor, Sadducee in office until 36 A.D., son-in-law of Anna, who preceded him as High Priest; b) the true fire (14:54) is Christ, who is at the same time a holocaust; c) Jesus is silent like the Suffering Servant of Is 53:7 (Sl 39); d) Jesus proclaims himself God: “I am!” (14:62); now, that he has been “delivered up,” the Mexican secret may come undone.

5. Peter denies the Lord: 14:66-72

(a) Peter, the rock, denies Christ three times; (b) he warms himself to a little fire, and not to the living flame of Christ; (c) Peter, however, remembers the Word of the Lord, and his weeping is conversion (Lam 3:17-23; 5:15-17).

6. Jesus handed over to Pilate: 15:1-15

a) The verb “deliver” recurs 10 times in chapters 14 and 15: here Jesus is handed over to the Gentiles; b) Bar Abba, i.e., “son of the father,” i.e., “of n.n.”: the choice is between a son of no one and the Son of the Father, of God: but the Son of the Father redeems all of us, sons of no one, the innocent save sinners, the peaceful the violent.

7. Jesus is the crowned king: 15:16-20

Mark dwells on the crowning with thorns: a) in Israel only God is King (cf. Royal Sl); b) the soldiers, in their parody, proclaim the great truth of Christ’s kingship; c) as Moses had knelt before the burning bush, so the soldiers prostrate themselves before the crowned with thorns.

8. The crucifixion: 15:21-27

(a) Simon of Cyrene, who will become a known Christian (Rom 16:3), is the type of the disciple, called to carry the cross behind his Lord (Mk 8:34; Lk 23:26); (c) Simon the Pope is not there, but there is Simon of Cyrene, a Jew from the diaspora, living in Libya; (d) power makes a foreigner, a poor man, carry the cross.

9. Jesus crucified mocked: 15:29-32

a) Jesus is the mocked Servant, before whom one shakes his head (Is 53:3-5; Sl 22:7-80); b) he is mocked as the prophet who announced the destruction of the Temple (14:65; 15:29), in reality on the cross the very destruction of the Temple of his body is accomplished; c) he is mocked as the High Priest who is to save others (14:63; 15:31), in reality on the cross he is saving the world; d) he is mocked as King (15:17-18. 32), in reality he is God who reigns from the wood (Sl 96:10).

10. Jesus’ death: 15:32-40

(a) Jesus’ death takes place in an apocalyptic setting (Am 8:9-10); darkness recalls the first creation (Is 43:19), and Jesus’ cry rips through the primordial silence and begins a new Genesis; (b) Jesus dies alone, forsaken by all (Sl 38); (c) “Jesus, giving a loud cry, expired: it is the cry that proclaims the final defeat of evil (9:26), that announces the deliverance of Jerusalem (Is 40:2-9), it is the cry of the new creation (Gen 1:1-2); d) the veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom, i.e., by God’s work: Christ’s ripped flesh is the veil through which we have access to the Holy One (Heb 10:19-20); e) “seeing him expire in that way,” the centurion proclaims Jesus the Son of God: the Cross is the ultimate revelation of God, of his being Love; f) the pious women are type of the disciple, who is with Jesus even at the moment of the Cross. .

15. Burial: 15:42-47

(a) Joseph of Arimathea is also type of faithful Israel and disciple (15:43); (b) the one who is placed in the tomb as an object will be resurrected on the third day, on the eternal Sabbath.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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