Homily for Passion Sunday – Seven days of manna in a one-day bag

Updated: Mar 26

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There are 2438 words from Mark 14:1-72 and Mark 15:1-47, which amounts to two full chapters. That much is going to be read aloud – as a weak reenactment of the Passion Play – on Passion Sunday [also known as Palm Sunday]. We will not read that here at the bus stop, but all Episcopal churches and many others like that church will do that.


Because that is about seven Sundays’ worth of Scripture read [with an Old Testament reading from Isaiah, a Psalm, and a song from Paul's letter to the Philippians also read aloud], it is impossible to say anything of value in twelve to fifteen minutes. Therefore, nothing at all will be explained about these verses of divine Scripture, in any of the churches where those words will be orated.


In the Episcopal Church’s lectionary schedule of readings, Palm Sunday – which as far as this reading goes is why today is called Passion Sunday [Mark 11 is the Palm message] – Year B is the only time that any of those 2438 words will be read aloud. They will never be read partially, as small bits of insight that can help you or me or anyone get to know God better. Today is it.


Nothing written in the Holy Bible is casual. Everything comes from the Mind of God, through His prophets. Nothing in the Holy Bible is written for any other reason than to guide lost souls back to Him. All of it bears divine value. Therefore, all Scripture demands leaders who can speak of spiritual matters, so seekers can be taught such things.


According to the New Revised Standard Bible [the NRSV], these are the headings of the parts of Mark’s fourteenth and fifteenth chapters:


  1. The Plot to Kill Jesus

  2. The Anointing at Bethany

  3. Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

  4. The Passover with the Disciples

  5. The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

  6. Peter’s Denial Foretold

  7. Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

  8. The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

  9. Jesus before the Council

  10. Peter Denies Jesus [This ends chapter 14]

  11. Jesus before Pilate

  12. Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

  13. The Soldiers Mock Jesus

  14. The Crucifixion of Jesus

  15. The Death of Jesus

  16. The Burial of Jesus [This ends chapter 15]


The first verse read in all that says, “It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread.” [Mark 14:1a] The first verse of the last section headed by the NRSV says, “When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath.” [Mark 15:42]


Raise your hand if you know how many days these two chapters of Mark cover.


<Look for raised hands.>


The answer is nine days: From 13 Nisan to 21 Nisan. Or, from Thursday to Friday.


I know this bus stop is non-denominational and the bus system [like the Episcopal Church] allows anybody to ride the bus; but is anyone here today Jewish?


<Look for nodding heads or raised hands.>


Is anyone here either a Roman Catholic, an Episcopalian, a Methodist, Presbyterian, or any other denomination that sets aside a time called “Holy Week”?


<Look for nodding heads or raised hands.>


The period known as Holy Week begins today. It goes all the way up to next Saturday, which is called Holy Saturday. Did everyone know that?


<Look for nodding or shaking heads.>


This is what today and the next six days are called, by those churches recognizing Holy Week:


  1. Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday)

  2. Holy Monday

  3. Holy Tuesday.

  4. Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday)

  5. Maundy Thursday.

  6. Good Friday.

  7. Holy Saturday (Black Saturday) - Easter Vigil.

Holy Week then ends with Easter Sunday, making it be an eight-day period of recognition.


Does anyone know the difference between what Mark termed “the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread” and Holy Week is?


<Look for nodding heads or faces looking like they had never given thought to such a question.>


I’ll tell you.


The Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread is what the Jews maintain religiously, as commanded to them by Yahweh, through Moses – every year.


The Hebrew calendar began with that commandment they agreed to keep; and, the year we call 2021 is the Hebrew year 5781. That means the descendants of the Israelites who followed Moses into the wilderness have been recognizing the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread for five thousand seven hundred eighty-one years.


The year 2021 used to be called A.D., from Anno Domini, meaning "the Year of our Lord." The Big Brains now call it 2021 of the Common Era [C.E.], when some realized Jesus was not born in year 0 [1 A.D.] and no one began using that numbering system for quite a while afterwards. Therefore, Christians have not been recognizing Holy Week for two thousand twenty-one years.


The idea of Holy Week was a creation by Gentiles. Unfortunately, it was begun by those who hated Jews and wanted nothing to do with them. So, rather than also join the club and follow a God-commanded recognition for the rest of eternity, some early Christians came up with the idea of Holy Week. An eight-day period recognized religiously by Jews is matched by an eight-day period now honored by Christians … just not usually at the same time of year.


In the list of the days of Holy Week, you might have noticed some funny nicknames, like Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday. Have you heard all those names before?


<Look for nodding heads and raised hands.>


Well, somehow [I’m not sure exactly how] those titles of days of the week have some correlation with what is read in Mark 14 and Mark 15 [Year B only].


If I were to utter the words [words that will never be heard spoken aloud in one of the aforementioned churches that recognize Holy Week] – “Open your Bibles and turn with me to …” – if we were to open Bibles and go through the words of Mark 14 and Mark 15, there would be no mention of any of those nicknames.


To me, that is like the concept of goodness being transformed into some lie, like is the lie of Santa Claus at Christmas and the lie of the Easter Bunny coming [I guess next Saturday] at Easter.


It becomes some fabrication that can only be responded to, when questioned, by saying, “Ssssshhh. Remember, good boys and girls don’t ask questions and spoil the free gifts they get.”


Raise your hand if you have been told you are saved, because you did little more than be sprinkled with water [or dunked in a pool] and taught to say, "I believe in Jesus."


<Look for raised hands>


That is the promise of free gifts that parents tell their children, when they have no right to speak for Yahweh. Yahweh is the Father that will gladly give away salvation, but it comes with a return promise of commitment.


As the saying goes, "Nothing in life is free." The cost of eternal life is a soul given to Yahweh, followed up by hard work. Conversely, the cost of living the life your brain thinks is best for you is your soul. Go too far away from God and the saying goes, "You sold your soul to the devil."


It is this element of believing lies and doing nothing, that becomes the downfall of Christianity, at least as it exists today.


Even here, at this bus stop, I speak, you listen. Because the bus schedule cannot be interrupted, when I finish speaking the bus arrives and everyone leaves, no questions asked.


No questions are answered, simply because Christianity exists in speedy times … times too busy for questions and answers.


If one thinks about it … and everyone must certainly put deep, serious, meditative thought into one’s religious beliefs … God knew the Israelites would never become married to Him [Spiritually] if they stayed amid all the hustle and bustle of Egypt.


He had Moses lead them out to a quiet place, where there really was nothing better to do than think about, “Why am I here?”


Can you imagine that? Hours of the equivalent of 'Bible Studies' [before there was 'a Bible'], with no ability to say, "Well, it's been fun, but i gotta run." Where you going to go when out in the wilderness and the only reason for being there is you want to save your soul?


From that mindset, brought about by forty years alone with Yahweh and Moses in a quiet place, the stubborn and stiff-necked Israelites became wayward, after given property to call their own. In essence, they separated from their marriage to Yahweh, once they took control of the Promised Land.


Then they divorced Him completely, when they told Samuel [a Moses replacement], “We want a human leader, not one we can’t see!”


That divorce eventually led to all of them being overrun by some “kings of other lands.”


By the time the Jews in captivity were freed and allowed to return to Jerusalem, where Darius let them rebuild the Temple, they began to promote the Commandment to remember the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread.


That was something they had not done for centuries, because of their divorce from Yahweh. They kept count of the years as commanded, but got so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Israel [and Judah] becoming much more like Egypt, than a quiet place in the wilderness. Seeing that as the forgetfulness that led to severe punishment, the new leaders of the Second Temple made attendance in Jerusalem mandatory … three times … every year.


That was when people were called from all around, to recognize "the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread."


No matter where you lived then, a descendant of Israel was expected to show up and worship in Jerusalem, just to show God they were very sorry their forefathers had divorced Him. It became a grand show of devotion to Yahweh, through a ritual practice; but the deeper meanings for those practices had long been forgotten.


It was kind of like knowing your great grandfather was once the lead guitarist for some ancient rock group and trying to rekindle that glory by sitting in a chair, holding a guitar, but having never taken any guitar lessons. It isn't genetics that makes one holy and a priest of Yahweh. Simply showing up in Jerusalem, for all those who were cast out, left a whole lotta Jews wondering, "Will Yahweh see how lost we are?"


In an attempt to woo God’s favor again, Jews dropped everything and planned a pilgrimage from wherever they had been scattered, to spend two months in Jerusalem. It was like one long family vacation, always taken around the same time, always going to the same place. It was what trips based on faith are all about: You trust this will be the year something fun actually happens.


Okay, knowing that, I want you to see how Christianity takes a completely different approach.


No one is expected to show up at a church and hang around for two months. At best, some will show up for a Palm Sunday service and then come back on Easter Sunday. In between, all that stuff called Holy Week is for the unemployed, the elderly, and those who own their own latchkey businesses and have plenty of free time on their hands. Mostly, mid-week services are only attended by 'church ladies,' who are just as lost as were the Jews; but they are in love with church buildings, flowers, silver goblets and altar wafers.


Of all the people that will show up at a church today and next Sunday [Easter], only a handful will show up on Thursday evening, for the foot-washing service. Fewer will show up any of the other days of Holy Week, although many churches set up hour-long time slots for the Easter Vigil, hoping someone will sign up to sleep in the church for four hours, so others won’t have to arrive between midnight and four in the morning.


It all becomes like expecting Jesus to dress up as the Easter Bunny and be seen in the park Saturday morning; and, that is a sign of the downfall of Christianity. It reflects the same way the Jews, released from bondage in Babylon, also made stuff up to make God think they were madly in love with Him and wanted to remarry.


In the lessons of the Israelites being led by Moses into the wilderness, they complained about everything. They were no different than Christians today. Christians complain about having to leave home to go to church, having to leave work to go to a midday mass, having to not play sports or watch some idolatry on television on a Saturday [or Super Bowl Sunday, et al]. When in the hustle and bustle of Egypt, it is hard to tear oneself away from idleness and pretend to love God and going to church.


Above all, Christians complain about needing to go to Bible Studies, especially when they learned all they need to know by being dragged by their parents to children's church for fifteen years.


Complain, complain, complain. That is human nature.


So is not being married to Yahweh. Human beings are given the breath of Life from God [birth], sent out free to do as they want; but with a God-given soul there comes the secret expectation those souls need to find their way back to God. Sometime, before death.


A return to God takes more than just having a soul - a breath of life from God. That's where churches and priests come in … as long as the priests are filled with the Holy Spirit and the Church is a whole bunch of people reborn as Jesus Christ.


Because it is human nature to complain [just like all babies are known to cry for what they want], to alleviate all the complaints in the wilderness, God sent them manna. Think of it as 'Spiritual Pablum.'


Manna is a Hebrew word that asks the question, “What is it?”


Simply by manna appearing for them to gather, they were forced to ask a question: "What is this stuff?"


The answer is this: Manna is Spiritual food. It is the Word of God. Consume the Word of God and suddenly your soul knows what Yahweh wants it to know; so, that becomes the strength and the will to go on, always asking the next day, “What is it” that God will feed me today.


Manna is the written Word of Scripture. It is what churches feed to their paying customers, in the hustle and bustle of modern civilized life.


The only problem now is that Yahweh is not feeding souls the answers. It has become those who tell lies about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It becomes a repeat of the Jews of the Second Temple ruling over the descendants of Israel, telling them they all needed to do was show up, while having no answers to give those who did.


When the Israelites were away from all the social distractions of ‘life in the big city,’ God told Moses to tell them the manna was only to be gathered in daily quantities. Only on Friday could they gather enough for two days, so they could rest on the Sabbath and not do the work [remember, nothing is free] of gathering manna.


If they gathered too much, in some misguided attempt to keep from working every day to do that work, then the manna would turn to mush and maggots would crawl all over it.


Even with that warning, some tried and they all found out: It turned to mush and maggots crawled all over it. Thus, “What is it?” was answered by saying, “More than you can handle.”

Waste


Well, guess what?


Modern Christianity, which hates Jews and wants nothing to do with remembering the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread, puts seven days’ worth of manna in a one-day bag, saying, “Enjoy whatever it is, because we’re not going to tell you.”


The 2438 words that some Christians make into a poorly acted play [a Passion Play] all turns to mush and maggots crawl all over those Words of Scripture. It has no useful purpose when served up in such a large quantity.


When the Israelites were following Moses in the wilderness, they did so after their firstborn male heirs had been spared death. They were spared death because they followed the orders of Yahweh, spoken by the mouth of Moses. The blood of yearling lambs, inspected and found to be blemish-free, was spread over the doorposts of their homes and the meat of the lamb was roasted and eaten, according to specific steps given by Moses. Following direction saved some firstborn males from otherwise certain death.


The deaths escaped by those engaged to marry Yahweh certainly did not happen for the Egyptians – the city dwellers all caught up in their own hustle and bustle. Many first born male Egyptians die in Egypt. Many more who followed the lead of Pharaoh [soldiers on chariots] died as drown rats, trying to keep those who chose righteousness over idleness from leaving. That says being led into the wilderness is for the promised land of heaven, eternal salvation of one’s souls.


Death has to be seen as the promise of mortality, as a soul giving life to a time-limited body of flesh. Trying to defeat the Will of God will only leave one dead to Him. Since bodies are as readily available as a new baby being born, one can see how the souls that had given life to the Egyptians all returned in the first breath of new babies born in the world. Nothing was lost, other than a promise of escape through eternal life and getting off of that reincarnation cycle.


The Israelites, like the Jews after them, and like the Christians today, never figured out that being alone with God, being fed by His Spiritual food, and finding the delight that comes from finding out, “What does it mean?" is why Apostles and Saints began what was true Christianity. They all lost touch with the answers God gives, for all who question "What is it?"


"What do you want me to do for you, Lord?" is that question missing so often these days.


The Saints reborn as Jesus Christ – a name meaning Yahweh Has Saved [my soul] – brought DAILY spiritual food to anyone who sought to know God, by saying, “This written here means this ….”


God speaks through His prophets. Good Shepherds are many Saints born in the name of "Yahweh Saves" ["Yeshua"], as His "Anointed Ones" ["Christ"].


At no time did any of the Apostles and Saints begin quoting some philosopher or bestselling author who wrote some popular book; and, they did not say, “Gather around my children, while I read the whole Holy Bible to you.”


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz – that would have been the result of that.


Manna turned to mush, with flies buzzing around, from maggots having had enough time to fully grow and mature.


This does not mean that all of Mark 14 and Mark 15 cannot be read. It just needs to be read in daily amounts, so time is allowed to explain the meaning.


Of course, that meaning has to come from Yahweh, not someone whose only claim to fame is a diploma from a seminary and a paystub in his or her wallet that proves employment for some religious business. Mark needs to be explained by Saints and Apostles, who open their mouths and God speaks.


Since that is not easily found today, perhaps Christianity needs to do more towards showing God they want to be remarried to Him … just like the Jews who returned to Jerusalem did, long ago.


God responded to them by sending His Son Jesus.


Early Christianity was led by a flock of Jesuses being reborn in bodies that had indeed married Yahweh and become Sons of man, authorized teachers of Scriptural meaning.


Perhaps Yahweh will take note of a desire for remarriage by turning Holy Week into a better replica of the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread, such that the 2438 words of Mark [Year B] are divided up into Sunday through Saturday helpings [daily helpings averaging 348 words each], where open discussions could be held, asking, “What is it?”


What would be wrong with Holy Week being set up like this:


  • Palm Sunday Morning - Mark 11:1-11

The triumphal entrance

  • Passion Sunday Evening - Mark 14:1-11

The Plot to Kill Jesus

The Anointing at Bethany

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

  • Holy Monday - Mark 14:12-31

The Passover with the Disciples

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

Peter’s Denial Foretold

  • Holy Tuesday - Mark 14:32-72

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

Jesus before the Council

  • Holy Wednesday - Mark 14:66-72 & Mark15:1-5

Peter Denies Jesus

Jesus before Pilate

  • Holy Thursday - Mark 15:6-20

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

  • Holy Friday - Mark 21-32

The Crucifixion of Jesus

  • Holy Saturday - Mark 33-47

The Death of Jesus

The Burial of Jesus


I think God would like that approach, because it also would demand [like did the Second Temple Jews] mandatory attendance, to what would become a full week of Bible Studies – all focused on understanding two chapters of Mark.