March 29, 2015 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Is 50: 4-7; Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2: 6-11; Mk 14:1 – 15:47
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” With those words, as reported in the Gospel from Mark, the reading of the Lord’s Passion, “Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” We, as Catholics, stand every Palm Sunday at the reading of the Passion of Christ. We walk with the Lord; we even cry out “Crucify him; crucify him.” Our Lenten journey is culminating and we are reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
Although we could reflect on many things on this Palm Sunday, the fact remains that this Passion is the climax of the entire history of Revelation and Redemption. With our hearing of this again, we are reminded of the two important features of the Passion — our sins and God’s love for us. There is a reason that the Church has us join in the chorus of voices saying “Crucify him. Crucify him.” Just like the multitudes in Jerusalem we may hail the Lord with palms at one moment and condemn Him in the next, because we are sinners.
One of Jesus’ closest associates betrays Him and the one in whom He placed so much trust — St. Peter — denies Him. That may be the reality of our own lives. The characters who run through Christ’s Passion remind us of much of what we may do. Even Pilate, who comes across as perhaps having some understanding, is very much like we are. Pilate is a realist. He just wants to keep the peace; he understands what the real world is like.
Do we understand what the real world is like? Do we tolerate much, even within ourselves, just because that is easier? As much as we may conclude that the Passion was all a part of God’s plan, the one fact we must face and accept is that God granted all, including us, free will. In a sense that is a blessing while being a curse.
What we do with our lives is our choice. Whether we pursue lives of selfishness or lives of stewardship is a matter of our decisions. On this Palm Sunday, this reminder of the significance of Holy Week and Easter, we have a final opportunity to pledge and commit ourselves to living in a way that God calls us to live.
Our Holy Father Francis provided us with a message for Lent just prior to Ash Wednesday. What he said at that time is still applicable as we approach the end of the Lenten Season. Pope Francis reminded us that “God does not ask of us anything that He Himself has not first given us. ‘We love because he first has loved us’.” (1 John 4:19) Pope Francis goes on to speak of a world filled with indifference, pointing out that it is a problem which we as Christians and Catholics need to confront.
Although we may be indifferent, God is not indifferent to us. He loved us so much that He gave His Son for our salvation. God opens the gates between heaven and earth for us; Pope Francis also prompted us that it is the Church which holds this gate open for us. As we begin the holiest week of our year, now is the best time to embrace those gifts and to vow to return them with gratitude to the Lord.