Saturday, March 27, 2010

Palm Sunday

The Gospel proclaimed to begin the Palm Sunday procession recounts Jesus’ festive Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The rest of the story, what we call the “Passion,” proclaimed during the Mass which follows the procession, reveals the ultimate destination of that journey – to the cross & the tomb. We, of course, are the intended beneficiaries of this. It all happened, as we say every Sunday in the Creed, for us & for our salvation.

So it is no accident that the cross is the central symbol of Christianity, because the cross of Jesus is precisely where we meet God in our world, just as the tomb – the eventually empty tomb – shows us where he is taking us.

In a world where suffering & death always seem to have the last word, the death of Jesus was God’s great act of solidarity with us in our ordinary day-to-day suffering & our ultimate mortality.
In itself, of course, there is not much to be said in favor of suffering. Nor can it be claimed (at least not without further qualification) that we are automatically “ennobled” somehow by suffering. One can easily live one’s entire life imprisoned alone in anger & pain - and then die that way. Jesus, however, gives us a counter-example, as every word he utters in his passion shows him reaching out to others – to the women of Jerusalem, to his executioners, to the convict being executed along with him – finally commending himself once and for all to his Father.
So this Holy Week we are invited to accompany Jesus to the cross and to the tomb
- to be consoled as were the women of Jerusalem,
- to be forgiven as were his executioners,
- to be remembered in his kingdom as was the dying criminal,
- and, finally, to be commended to his Father with whom he now lives,
- because, thanks to Jesus’ cross, death no longer has the last word in our world.

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