Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday of the Lord's passion

Today is Palm Sunday. The day of the Long Gospel, to those of the Catholic faith. It is also the Sunday where I find myself most often moved to tears during the Mass.

Perhaps it is because today is the start of Holy Week. Yet I think it signifies something deeper. I wonder if maybe today we get to see the Lord, our brother Jesus Christ, at his most human, and we also get to see the great example of how He triumphed over human weakness.

Can anyone understand despair quite so well and so deeply as Christ did? He prayed that the cup be taken away. He didn't want to face what He knew he must face; He knew the horrors of what awaited Him. Still, He said: Thy will and not my will. This despite prayer so fervent that He would sweat blood. Can we really understand that?

He would not answer the Sanhedrin, nor Pilate. He knew the futility of it, so He stood mute. He had faith that that was pointless and even that no answer would speak more profoundly than anything He might utter. Pilate was amazed. One can almost taste the apprehension the Roman felt...and one can certainly sense the human fear which caused him to symbolically wash his hands of the affair.

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? He cried. Many today believe it nothing but a cry of total despair. But it was not. It was the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, a prayer which ends hopefully and indeed gloriously. You may read it here:

Christ more fully understood human suffering than any one of us. Yet He gave Himself up to it, to show that it was not futile. Let's not fail Him in facing our own despairs.

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