On Palm Sunday, with the Pasion of Christ, we begin the Holy Week which culminates in the joy of the light of Easter. But how do we live this week?
Bible Readings Isaiah 50: 4-7 Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24 Philippians 2: 6-11 Mark 14: 1-15: 47
Passion of Christ, depth of God’s love
In the incarnation God takes up our nature, becoming human like us. He comes to give us the fullness of life not from a distance; he shares also even in our suffering, rejection, fears –in short, he shares fully in our human condition. Indeed, he’s Emmanuel, God with us. And in the passion we see the depth of his love in action.
But what’s my response?
Surely, I can live the Holy Week in an attitude of gratitude –simply saying Thank you. But that would not be all. I ought to ask myself: how can I, in my own little way, radiate this love?
Indeed, the Gospel of the Palm Sunday puts us face to face with the saving passion of Christ, as the scripture affirms: “ by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5). That’s how the passion of Christ becomes the means of our salvation. Consequently, the cross, instrument of shameful death, becomes a symbol of love and victory, and thus, occupies a special place in our devotion. That changes also our attitude towards suffering, especially the meaning of sacrifice that we can make for some cause. However, we should be careful so that the glorification of the cross isn’t on the expense of trivialising the suffering that many of our brothers and sisters endure. Or else, we risk becoming cold and insensitive to misery that dehumanises and disfigures a brother or a sister before us. So we can actively contemplate the passion of Christ if it moves us to love, especially in making the sacrifice that may be necessary in order to relieve those who suffer. But how do we do that?
Step out of the crowd and see a human face as yours
From the time he was arrested to his crucifixion Jesus remains a victim of mob justice. You would say it’s the crowds that dictate his fate. They shout out not only the false accusations against him, but also claim his condemnation in preference for Barabbas. That’s why even though Pilate doesn’t see the point for his condemnation he succumbs to the pressure of the jeering mobs.
Against the condemning crowds, Jesus is alone
Against such dominion of mobs, on one side, we find Jesus left alone, on the other side. Firstly, it’s his own disciple who betrays him. And in the moment when he most needs company his closest friends flee for their lives, abandoning him. Even Peter, who gathers up some courage to do as he had promised, ends up in disowning him –I don’t know this man. Jesus he’s alone. Even today, in varied ways, Jesus continues to be alone rejected, falsely accused and humiliated in the little ones of his brothers and sisters.
Jesus still alone in condemnatory populism of today
Think of the populist speeches and attitudes that are ruling our world today, influencing not only laws, decisions, and the voting patterns but also my own manner of looking at the other person. Consequently, I ignore the human face in distress only to find security in mobs shouting: crucify him! That’s why this week is a privileged time to ask myself: as a way of participating in this saving passion of Jesus, am I ready to step out of the mobs and act as Christian?
Persons to emulate
Despite the general ambiance of condemning mobs; there are persons who stepped out to act differently. Firstly, before the passion we find a woman who, even without a name, defies all opposition to anoint the head of Jesus with rich perfume. Then, we have Simon of Cyrene who, though tired after labouring in his field, accepts to help this unknown, condemned person to carry the cross. Unexpectedly, here’s a pagan who steps out of the mobs to express what he feels deep down within him; the centurion declares: “Truly this was a son of God.” Then, we have Joseph of Arimathea who takes the pain of giving a decent burial to the person rejected by many as criminal.
I just wonder what went on deep down these exemplary persons. Indeed, they had the courage to step out of the security of hiding in the mobs, and defied the pressure of public opinion, in order to look at this condemned person with a different eye –an eye of faith and of humanity.
Pray, therefore, that we too may live and look at the events of this Holy Week with an eye of faith.
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