Vicar’s Reflection: Passion Sunday. Sunday 29th March 2020, Lent 5
In ancient Greek sporting contests such as the first Olympic Games the events were called agons or agonies which means conflict, struggle or contest. This could be a contest in athletics, in chariot or horse racing, or in music or literature. From this word ‘agon’ we also get 'agony', and in theatre or storytelling the unfolding drama between protagonist (hero) and antagonists (villains). It is this meaning that has given rise to the name: ‘Passion’ Sunday and the term ‘the Passion or Agony of Christ’. In these last days before His crucifixion, we see Jesus our protagonist striving, fighting and struggling against the antagonistic forces of evil. Even Jesus’ friends and companions slip from being protagonists to antagonists as they abandon, deny and betray him. Jesus’ weapons in this struggle however are not the usual ones of the gladiator or athlete. His weapons are truth, righteousness, forgiveness, reconciliation and love. He specifically rejected the traditional violent means of defence and retaliation. All this is foreshadowed in the story of the raising of Lazarus. This event is like the point at which Jesus deeply understands the agon that lies before him, while at the same time he is able to reassure his companions, and perhaps himself that God, our great protagonist, can overcome even the stark reality of death. We can remember and encourage ourselves as we face the sobering reality of lock-down to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19. This agon will pass. God will deliver us from even this evil.