Some reflections for Passion Sunday (29th March)

Thomas the Twin has acquired the nickname ‘doubter’. This morning’s long Gospel (John 11: 1-45) encourages us to look again. When Jesus says to the disciples that he is going back to Judaea, the place of imminent danger, it’s Thomas who says to the others, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (v. 16)

The story of the raising of Lazarus is sandwiched by the Gospel writer between two texts referring to the plans of Jesus’ opponents {...they tried to arrest him (10: 39) ...orders were given by the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest him. (11: 57)}

Forty years ago this month St Oscar Romero was murdered while saying Mass in a hospice chapel, because he wouldn’t be silenced by the oppressive government of his country. This morning’s Radio 4 service at 8.10 a.m. from Wesley’s Chapel centred on that event of forty years ago.

Yesterday evening Channel 4 broadcast Helena Bonham Carter’s search for the story of her grandparents’ experiences during World War Two. A Jewish maternal grandfather who was a Spanish diplomat defied the instructions of his anti-Semitic government in Madrid to fast-track the visa applications of Jewish fugitives fleeing Paris through Bordeaux after the rapid German invasion of France. He was demoted in disgrace by the fascist authorities. But, for him, morality had to override civil obedience. Meanwhile Helena’s paternal grandmother Lady Violet Bonham Carter refused to flee from her London home during the London Blitz. She put her life on the line as an Air Raid Warden. She later found her name on the Gestapo’s ‘hit list’ because of her efforts to assist Jewish people fleeing Nazi occupied lands.

They all stand in a line with Thomas the Twin. The passage from John’s Gospel on Radio 4 this morning brought us these words of Jesus: “Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (12: 25) Romero and the disciple Thomas both showed the path of costly service. So did Helena Bonham Carter’s grandparents.

Jesus accepts us, with all our limitations, if only we will trust him when he calls. And all who serve us through this dangerous Covid-19 crisis are surely honoured by the Father also. (see John 12: 26)

Trevor Thomas