Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Jesus’ Passion began long before Good Friday; perhaps His entire life encompassed the human fear of accepting His Divine Purpose. Perhaps, like all of us, Jesus felt the urge to run away from the inevitable and impending suffering He was asked to endure, a psychological, political, emotional, and visceral pain that supersedes all brokenness, strife, and struggle of the history of creation after the fall of humanity. Jesus bore that—alone, in a stark emotional nakedness—because He is Love personified.
Consider this feast day: Palm Sunday, always a somber occasion, a time for reflection and remorse, repentance and response. We hear the Passion of our Lord proclaimed every year, sometimes more than once per year, and somehow we have become immune and deaf to its powerful message. Somehow we have become lost and bored in this dramatic journey in which we are invited to be active participants, but we are welcomed to walk with Jesus from Gethsemane to Golgotha and finally to Eternal Life.
Unlike some views on the Passion of Christ, I believe it is a love story, a story of relief and redemption, a story of joy and hope. If all ended with Jesus’ Crucifixion, the finale of our faith would be futile and void. But since it is only the beginning of this love story, we must always look beyond the darkness into the eventual and eternal light that exists beyond the suffering.
Consider the words of Jesus to His disciples: “Take up your cross and follow Me.” “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you do not have life within you.” “Anyone who denies Himself for My sake will inherit eternal life.” Today, as we meditate and contemplate our Savior’s Passion, we must acknowledge that this occasion is a culmination of His entire ministry, one that is timeless and perpetuates His message of truth and love in the heart of every person. Jesus wants to remind us, gently and gingerly, that His journey was not meant to be solitary, but rather a personal walk with Him from His birth to His ascension. Every experience and encounter, every emotion and effect that Jesus presented through His very existence, was meant to be a spiritual metaphor and personal invitation to you and to me.
If we truly want to claim our Christianity, then we must desire nothing less than the Heart of the One who chose life and death for our sakes and salvation. To know Him intimately, to encounter Jesus every moment of our lives, requires us to actively participate in our personal call to discipleship, which always includes sacrifice, self-denial, and suffering.
Perhaps we can begin to view the darkness of our lives as a gift from Jesus, an act of love that He either wills or permits to happen so that we can truly live our own personal passion, so that we can unite our own sufferings out of love with the suffering of His sorrowful Passion. Perhaps today we can open our hearts in gratitude for all that defines our lives: the joys and blessings, the losses and mysteries.
What role do I play in Jesus’ Passion? Do I approach Jesus with humility and repentance like the woman who anointed His feet with perfume? Have I betrayed Jesus by denying my faith to others whom I fear may ridicule me? Have I been blind to the presence of Christ in my life, like the bystanders who mocked Him? Have I been faithful through the mysteries and darkness of life, like Our Lady and St. John the Evangelist? Meditate on your role in the Passion of Jesus, and then ask Him to reveal to you what role He wills for you to play.
Jesus of Nazareth, you are truly the Son of God, for there never has existed a mortal man who has willingly offered Himself as the Sacrificial Lamb of God. You truly take away my sins and those of the entire world; have mercy on me, a sinner. I come to you on this beautiful Feast of Your Passion with empty hands, begging you to fill them with Your outpouring of Mercy and Love. Jesus, I love You; help me to love You more. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing