Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (C)
Last Sunday we reflected on the unparalleled love of God shown by Jesus to the woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery. We focused our attention on Jesus, how he must have felt embarrassed, how He dealt with the elders, and how prudently and wisely He brought hope to the woman.
Today we read the Passion of Jesus and we also greeted Him with palms, to celebrate His entry to Jerusalem. Again we see how Jesus expressed His humility and meekness. Even then, the people knew that a king or war hero, when he returned to his kingdom after a victorious battle against his enemy, would mount a donkey and be greeted with shouts of victory and joy. Jesus was victorious over the ways of the Pharisees, over hunger, sickness and death, and they welcomed Him with shouts of joy on His way to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what the Father wanted of Him: to lift His people up from their dejection and to raise them up to the heights of His holiness and glory, even if He had to die on the cross.
The world is in competition with us. It proclaims victory on the following:
1. The great, the affluent and the powerful. Jesus said: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as Benefactors” (Lk 22:25). Since they live too high on pedestals, they do not comprehend the depth of poverty many people experience, they do not understand the gravity of the economic tragedy the world is in, and they do not grasp the seriousness of the moral crisis in many nations and the hopelessness many people are subjected to.
2. People who are sifted according to their importance in society, achievements, cultural distinction, social interests, civic associations, beliefs and many others. Those who do not belong to a prestigious class lose opportunities that others have.
3. People who rise up in the morning to be in their jobs, get paid and given recognition. Many, though, have to rise up in the morning to seek the bare necessities to feed their families, or seek assistance to survive the stormy and cruel environment of being poor, needy and without influence.
Today’s readings teach us the following:
1. Jesus is close to the poor and the brokenhearted. When the disciples were talking about who among them was the greatest, Jesus said, “let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves…. that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom….” (Lk 22:26-30).
2. The faithful will be sifted not according to their importance in society, but according to their openness to God and their service to others. In the end of time, the Just Judge will proclaim: Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…. and…. Whatever you did not do for one of these least brothers of mine, you did not do for me (Mt 25:40 & 45).
3. Our glory is based on the cross of Christ and on our understanding that we are instruments of His greatness, for we do only what we are told to do; and when we do, miracles happen, just like at Cana. The world is beautiful, but it can also be a distraction from the Kingdom of God. At the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed, except for the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God gives us everything we need, except for the excessive attachment to the world.
Palm Sunday will have meaning only in obedience to God’s commands and in faithful compliance with our responsibilities, for in obedience and in fidelity we become sons of the Father. We don’t carry palm leaves anymore, but we carry one another, for the Lord wants us to strengthen our brothers. We don’t put our clothing on the ground for Jesus to walk on, but lay our whims and evil ways away. St. Peter proclaims, “clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another.…” (1Pt1:5). St. Paul also tells us: “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil…. put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones (Eph 6:11-18).
Let us clothe ourselves with Jesus and be filled with the Eucharist, so that we can also proclaim more boldly: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.