Passion (Palm) Sunday – April 10, 2022



Today, you’ll notice that our palms are in the midst of the weeds.    There, they serve as a reminder to us, not only of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but also, of the impending suffering, pain and death that Jesus would undergo because of his divine mission.   That divine mission was pure and simple:   to save humankind from their sins and usher in the Reign of God.    Being a part God’s reign meant coming to see Jesus, through the eyes of faith, as the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the King of the Universe.    Such an acceptance would have radical repercussions in a disciple’s life and in one’s life as a member of society.  As we heard in our gospel account today, Jesus’ divinely-given mission wasn’t going to be met without opposition.   —Quite the opposite.  He’d have to confront those who wanted things to remain the same.  He’d challenge those who didn’t want to lose their power or prestige or position in society and the temple.   He’d have to put in their place, those who didn’t want God’s reign to include all of humanity.  He’d have to deal with the abandonment and rejection of his 12 disciples and their sheepish confession of faith –during and after– his passion and death.  He’d suffer and die a most painful and humiliating death on the cross for people who weren’t even sorry for their sins and who might never come to know the great love God has for them, demonstrated by this great sacrificial act.

And so, the question arises:  Could Jesus have chosen an easier path?  Sure he could have!  He could have chosen to keep things the same.  He could have chosen to accept and support the views and power structures of the current political, cultural, and Jewish establishments of his time.   Jesus could have chosen NOT to evangelize, NOT to embrace people on the margins, NOT to give hope to those who felt they were unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness.  He could have judged them, just as harshly and mercilessly, as the accepted norms of the ancient near east deemed were socially acceptable.

What’s more, Jesus could have chosen another group of twelve to be his disciples and not have called them to a radical way of living their lives according to his good news.

And yet, if Jesus were to have chosen the easier path, we’d still be stuck in the muck our sins.  We’d still have no hope of everlasting life.  We’d still be looking for a messiah, a savior to redeem us and to give us hope of a better, more just world.     We’d still have us-and-them mentalities, still think of some people as chosen and others, as not.  We’d still be wary of thinking that our world could ever be a place where human rights and dignity would be protected, defended, and respected, where the poor could have an equal place at the table as the rich, where all people, everywhere, could come to know God by the free gift of faith.

Like Jesus, sometimes the road we may be called to travel, will involve pain and suffering, and even  sometimes, death.  It’s up to us whether we take the easy road or the hard road.  Such suffering and pain, though, if it results in enlarging the family of faith should be courageously embraced.  Such suffering and pain, if it helps to bring others a foretaste of God’s everlasting love for them, should be daringly entered into.  Such suffering and pain, if it makes the world a more peaceful, more just, more loving place for others, is not only preferable, but is obligatory on our behalf.   Like Christ, we’re called NOT to run away from the trials and tribulations that sometimes beset us, but rather, to accept them as Jesus willingly accepted his own suffering and death on the cross.   And when we accept such pain and suffering, we’re challenged to accept them with the same kind of love and commitment to God and neighbor that Jesus lived by and which makes us all sons and daughters of God.   So as we begin this holy Week, let us uproot any temptations we may have to avoid suffering and pain, if it leads to a greater witness to the love of God for every person and the salvation that God freely offers to all who choose to believe.    And let us each day, this holy week, become more like Christ whose suffering and death, lead to the resurrection.




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