On Palm Sunday, we commemorate the passion of Christ after the procession marking the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. What do we make of his passion? And what inspiration can we draw from it?
Isaiah 50: 4-7
Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Philippians 2: 6-11
Luke 22: 14-23: 56
Death of Jesus, a court case?
You may have seen it somewhere in the social media someone expressing the intention of suing in court people, or state, deemed to be responsible for the death of Jesus. Even if we don’t know the motivation, that gives us some idea about the way the death of Jesus is perceived -as murder.
No doubt, we can see malice and the injustice not only in the accusations but also in the judgment against Jesus. However, seeing only injustice in his death, our passion liturgy becomes only a commemoration of a murder victim. But Jesus is not a passive victim; he is an “actor”. In the midst of hatred and accusation against him Jesus did something -he loved.
I lay my life of my own accord
“No one takes it[life] from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (Jn 10:18), Jesus declares. In fact, in the Gospel according to John, different from the others, Jesus is in command: he’s not arrested but hands himself over and he remains in command even during trial. It’s those who are judging him who are embarrassed and lack the elements to condemn him. It’s in the midst of power struggle, hatred and injustice of his society that Jesus, freely, offers his life out of love. That gives us a different meaning of what we are commemorating.
We are not remembering a murder victim; rather, we commemorate someone, who in full conscience and liberty acted differently for the sake of love. His action was so eloquent and powerful that it could be felt even before the victory of the resurrection. Even when Jesus was still on the cross, symbol of defeat and punishment, the pagan centurion just couldn’t keep it to himself but declare, “This one was indeed a just man”. It’s the same with other people who had come to watch; they didn’t go home thinking about just another criminal crucified -but they went away beating their chests. No doubt, they must have seen before other persons crucified, but this one was different -the eloquence of love.
Our eloquence in the world today
The world we live in may not be as just and as humane as we would like it to be, but, at the example of Jesus, we can choose to act to make a difference. That’s the eloquent speech we can deliver, be it in our place of work or in our family. We should never choose to be passive victims, but we can always choose to be “actors” of love. Indeed, in the passion of Christ, we celebrate the depth of love given out in face of malice and injustice. In his arms he embraces the entire humanity. Indeed, Lord, give us to love despite the circumstance!
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