Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus says that before his kingdom will come, he must suffer greatly and be rejected. Even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals that Jesus’ death is the center and goal of the narrative, that which animates and gives verve to the story.
It has often been remarked that the Gospels are not so much biographies of Jesus as “Passion narratives with long introductions.” Jesus speaks frequently of his “hour,” the culmination of his preaching and action, and this hour coincides with his coming to the cross. After his relatively peaceful Galilean ministry, Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem, steeling himself for the encounter with the powers of darkness that would take place there and moving with resolution to battle.
And in what is perhaps the most disturbing mystery of the New Testament, this culminating event of Jesus’ life, this macabre glorification through crucifixion, is not simply the result of evil human choices; it is also willed by the one whom Jesus called “Abba, Father.” Somehow it is the deepest purpose of the Incarnation; somehow it is why he was sent.