A Piece of palm and a Passion story. That is what makes today different from all the other Sundays of the year. Each is important in itself. But neither can be separated from the other.
First the palm…..A slender thing that is blessed at church. And what do we do with it? We take it home and tuck it behind a crucifix. Its importance is in its symbolic power – a reminder of the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as people waved palms and cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Then there is the Passion story…..This year it is the Passion story of Matthew 26:14-27:66. Why do we hear the Passion story of Jesus’ suffering and death each year? Because suffering and death are the tests of our deepest values, a crucible we all have to face, especially these days.
This year we are reading the Passion narrative at home and not at church. We are witnessing the Passion this year in Real Time as we witness the cruel death of so many people who are suffering and dying along with Jesus on his Way to Calvary.
The Passion of Jesus tells us how Jesus faced death and the sufferings of death and how we too must face our own sufferings and death. The various people in Jesus’ life faced his death in various ways –
First there are his disciples – In Jesus’ darkest hours they bail out. Judas betrays Jesus and goes and hangs himself. Peter has good intentions, but he’s not good in following through, like a lot of us.
The chief priests and the elders plot against Jesus to kill him. This should point us to look at the values of our nation during this most difficult time, and our tendency to resort to violence and name-calling to solve our problems.
The women who followed Jesus respond with courage and generosity. Veronica offers him a cloth to wipe his face. It is women, not men, who show up at the cross, at the burial and at the empty tomb. It is women who are sent to proclaim the Good News of his Resurrection. It is the women who are on the front lines today, risking their own lives during the pandemic to save others.
At the center of the Passion is Jesus. Jesus is faithful in doing the Father’s will, no matter what. When arrested, Jesus refuses violence. He is silent before Pilate and before the people who condemn him.
Jesus suffers and dies for us. From his death, comes a new life and a new role for us all. Many times in the hospital and at home we see someone who is going through great suffering. They have a little crucifix near their bedside. They relate what they are going through to what Jesus went through. Pain and suffering can be meaningless or it can be something that is done with compassion in union with Jesus and his suffering and pain. A God Flash
Do you have a crucifix handy to look at and meditate on during this Holy Week? Or are your eyes only fixated on the TV, computer, I-pad and smart phone screens?
This may be the very first time in your entire life that you have not gone to church and taken home palms on Palm Sunday….The first time to not go to church on Easter Sunday.
Find a crucifix at home. Seeing Jesus on that cross will let you know that you are not alone and how much he really loves you.
Spend time with Jesus this Holy Week. Spend time looking at the cross and Jesus who suffers and dies for you!! Our eyes get so tired looking at nothing but screens all day. Our souls find comfort and peace when we look at the cross and consider how much Jesus loves us!