Palm/Passion Sunday: the beginning of Holy Week. Passion Sunday signifies both suffering and love, royalty and triumph. By freely going to Jerusalem, Jesus demonstrates his humility and love for us.
Two Gospels will be proclaimed at this weekend’s Masses. The first, proclaimed before the procession with palms, tells of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Riding on a borrowed colt, Jesus was hailed by the crowds as they shouted blessings and praise to God. This is reported in each of the four Gospels, but Luke’s Gospel is the only one to report the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus’ response shows that this event, and those yet to come, are part of a divine plan.
In this gospel, it almost seems as if Jesus does not want to end his last meal with the disciples. His words on service are significant in this context. Jesus has given the Eucharist to his closest companions and will soon die in service to others. In considering the Eucharist, Francis of Assisi stood in awe at the “humility of God.” This same God gives himself to us in every Eucharist. Jesus models what we are called to be: people of service to others, at home, at work, in our neighborhoods, and in our parish community.
The awareness of others is a valuable Holy Week lesson. Jesus taught us that true power lies in sacrifice and service and that humility is one of the most important virtues we need for our service and mission. Jesus came to forgive, to include, and to welcome and he is repaid in rejection, dishonesty, and hatred. He shows us the absolute depth of his love by sacrificing everything for us and in doing so, has saved us. A journey through suffering love, service of others, true and inspiring leadership.
During his triumphant entry, Christ rode on a colt, symbolizing humility. In his suffering, Christ abandoned himself to his enemies without resistance or striking back. Through it all, there is Jesus. His enemies humiliate him, strike him, scourge him. Soldiers make a crown with thorns, a crown for the “King of the Jews.” Herod mocks him. Pilate, Roman trained, makes a half-hearted attempt at justice but fear for his career prevails.
Jesus, for his part, does not strike back, he does not scold, he does not accuse or blame. He begs his Father to forgive those who “do not know what they are doing.” Jesus seems to be the victim but all through he is, in fact, the master. He is master of the situation because he is master of himself.
So, as we go through this day and week, let us look very carefully at Jesus our Savior. We watch, not just to admire, but also to learn His attitudes and values so that we, in the very different circumstances of our own lives, may walk in his footsteps.
As his disciples, he invites us to walk his way, to share his sufferings, to imitate his attitudes, to “empty” ourselves, to live in service of others – in short, to love others as he loves us. This is not at all a call to a life of pain and misery. Quite the contrary, it is an invitation to a life of deep freedom. A life of peace and of love. If it were anything else, it would not be worth considering.
Peace and all good