April 1, 2012 – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
The readings today focus our attention on that life-giving redemptive sacrifice.
In the first reading, we hear what happens to the servant who proclaims the message. The people reject his message, and he is, in turn, humbled and humiliated. Yet, he is not deterred. He continues to proclaim God’s Word, because he has been appointed to do so. In fact, not only does he set out proclaiming the message God has given him to preach, he gives of himself in the midst of it.
“I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard, my face I did not shield from the buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help. … I will not be put to shame.”
Then, in the Gospel, we see Jesus as the suffering servant. He came to proclaim the Good News, to proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand, and for that, He is led like a lamb to the slaughter – beaten, mocked, and, finally killed. Yet that does not deter Him. In the midst of His passion Jesus, exhausted and pained though He was, He carried on, giving Himself selflessly glorifying the Father in His death.
“He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” St. Paul tells the Philippians in today’s second reading. “Because of this … at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus’ death teaches us so many things. Of course, it shows us just how much God loves us. The Father gave His only Son and willed Him to suffer and die for our sake, and the Son, meanwhile, willingly consented. He died a grueling unimaginably painful torturous death in order that we might be freed from the bonds of sin and have life eternal. That is deep love – the deepest love there is.
His passion and death, then, teaches us that suffering can be redemptive. Christ’s death bore great fruit. It is paradoxical, but it is true. Likewise, when we unite our sufferings with Christ they too can bear great fruit; they too can give glory to the Lord.
Today, we proclaim the Good news. As Christ’s disciples, we continue His ministry here and now — preaching the Gospel and heralding the kingdom of God by what we say and do.
As Jesus’ passion shows us, it is not an easy mission. It is full of self-sacrifice. We live not for ourselves, but for God, and so, we give of ourselves just as Jesus did in order to glorify the Lord.
That may mean that others mock us and humiliate us along the way. The life of a Christian is counter-cultural and therefore not popular after all, but we know that we were not made for this world. We were made for something so much greater. We were made to live life united to the Trinity in Heavenly glory forever. And so, we keep our eyes fixed on the prize as it were. We live our lives in such a way that others see God in us, that others recognize the truth and the wonder of the Gospel and are therefore drawn to live it out as well. We give of ourselves – our time, our talents, and our treasure (indeed our very lives) to serve the Lord by loving and serving those He has put in our path. We follow Jesus Christ, and that means we give, not of our excess, but of our first fruits do that our giving is a self-gift, a sacrifice. And we know that in that God is glorified.