Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (A)
Questions and declarations are ways of learning more about situations or conditions of persons, places, events or ideas. They become confrontational statements though, when people have to prove a stance or a statement on account of power, influence or guilt. In today’s Gospel we see a few of those:
1. Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Everybody knew it was a political question. Nobody was king but Caesar. Pilate was the procurator to the Roman Emperor, and therefore, loyal to him. While Pilate had authority over the Jews, he knew somebody was greater than he; and Pilate also felt the power of Jesus. He respected Jesus, but was afraid the Jews would report him to Caesar.
Jesus answered: “You say so.” God’s language is meek, gentle and one of compassion and of hope. Pilate would use his own political language to stay in power and remain in good terms with the people and the king.
Usually, we go to God with our own language, by making promises to Him without fulfilling them, or by simply wanting God to obey what we tell Him. We have to realize, though, that God’s language is one of hope, of love, of justice and of things pleasing to Him as Creator and King. Anything that does not promote His Kingdom and the good of His people is not pleasing to Him, and therefore, not His language.
2. Pilate asked Jesus: “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” The people brought to Pilate political accusations against Jesus: of being a revolutionary, of inciting the people not to pay taxes to the Roman government, of claiming to be a king. They knew that Pilate would act on these charges.
How many times have we accused God that He’s so far away, that He does not answer our prayers, and that He does not care about suffering in the world? How many times have we declared that He does not exist? All these we declare because we want to follow our own designs and obtain all that we want in life. So, before Pilate, Jesus did not say a word. Why? Because Pilate’s complaints and accusations against Jesus, and those of the Jewish leaders, were not worthy of Him as King and God.
The silence of Jesus made Pilate the accused. He could not find any reason to sentence Jesus. Pilate was bothered by his conscience and warned by his wife that Jesus was not what the people were accusing Him of. So, Pilate washed his hands of the condemnation of Jesus.
Similarly, the silence of Jesus before our questions and complaints against Him and about life makes us the accused. Our conscience bothers us because of our own foolishness and sins. We are so enmeshed in our past, in our hurts, in our concerns. We cannot move forward because we are devoted to our past, we nurture our hurts, we adore our concerns. We do not see heaven, because our eyes are fixed on earth. We cannot lift our hands to God, because they are so heavy with worldly things. Yet, Jesus looks at us and talks to us with His language of silence and of love.
3. The soldiers exclaimed: “Hail, King of the Jews!” …. They placed over his head the written charge against him: Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews…. The centurion proclaimed: “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
The palms that we used and exhibited today are a proclamation of our belief and hope in Jesus as our King. Like the soldiers, the chief priests and the scribes and the centurion, we proclaim Jesus as King of our lives, but many times we want our will to prevail; we like to tell Jesus what to do with our lives; we turn away from Him when our pleasures, our whims and our power are at stake. Despite everything that Jesus proclaims, we still cling to ourselves and to the world. Even on the cross, Jesus had to proclaim that we are worth dying for, that He loves us, that He is our only hope. In Him we become a people of hope, for only in Him, we are saved.
This Holy Week, let us exert more effort to participate in the Church’s activities, receive the sacraments, especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, pray the Scriptures, and stay connected with God’s people. With Mother Mary, may we come to realize that the seeming silence of Jesus is our opportunity to renew our lives and reform our ways for our salvation and for the Glory of God.