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Readings for Palm Sunday
Sin has a price. During Holy Week, we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation; the reason He became man and dwelt among us. Jesus’ journey to the Cross began with His Incarnation in Mary’s womb. Certainly, He ranks as the greatest Teacher in history, but He is much, much more than that. Divine Truth could not save us, without the gift of grace to transform us. As St. Paul taught, the Mosaic Law condemns us. Since we know the truth, we are all the guiltier when we transgress it. The Mosaic Law provided the gift of wisdom, but it could not fortify a soul to follow it. The thousands upon thousands of sacrificial lambs began the process of atonement for sin, but only the Lamb of God could justify us completely before the Lord.
Jesus knew every detail of His Passion before it occurred. His human nature agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Eve of His crucifixion, even begging God that if it be His will, “to let this cup pass.” Jesus willingly accepted His suffering and allowed Himself to be taken into custody, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crucified. The Jews had tried to arrest Him several times before or stone Him for blasphemy, but to no avail. They had no power over Jesus, only love and the cost for our redemption compelled Him forward.
Christ, though sinless Himself, entered into the messiness of our sinful human experience. In doing so, He accomplished two things – first He redeemed us from our sins, and secondly, He drew near to comfort us in our struggles. No one can say to the Lord, “you don’t understand, your God.” Jesus experienced every humiliation that you and I suffer. He grew up in poverty, His family had to flee persecution and live in exile for a period of time, the cultural elite looked down on Him and discounted His wisdom, He was often misunderstood – even by His closest companions, during His public ministry He had no home, some towns welcomed Him but others drove Him out of the city, on the hardest day of His life His friends fled and two betrayed Him, and at the end of His life it appeared that everything He had built was falling apart. He experienced the fickle nature of human honors – being hailed as king as He entered Jerusalem with people waving palms shouting, “hosanna in the highest”, then the next day hearing the same crowd demand His execution shouting “crucify him.”
When we cry out to God in our pain, weeping and begging as we ask “do you not see my suffering? Do you even care?”, we can be assured that He does, more than anyone else on this earth. He became man so He could share in our suffering, carry our cross with us, and pay the price of our sins so we could live in the freedom of grace. It may seem at times that God is silent, and we may struggle at His inaction. Jesus experienced this too. He asked in the Garden if there was another way. On the Cross, He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Yet, He maintained complete confidence in God’s love and mercy. He surrendered to God’s will at each step. Even His final cry was one of hope. He was quoting Psalm 22 which begins in anguish but ends in confidence that God will save. Jesus knew that His death would bring resurrection, for all men. In the same way, we can be confident that we are never alone in our suffering, and with any death we experience, God will bring from it resurrection to new life.
- Consider each of Jesus’ sufferings:
- His agony in the Garden – taking upon Himself the weight of our sins, fighting the human impulse to flee pain, the apostles asleep in His hour of need, the betrayal by Judas
- His condemnation by the Sadducees and then by Pilate. Standing silent without retort.
- Hearing the crowd reject Him, even though He had done nothing but show them love. Hearing them demand His crucifixion. The vicious envy of the Jewish leaders and the shallowness of the people in the crowd who were so easily influenced.
- The bloody scourging, which bruised and tore His flesh and resulted in losing a great deal of blood.
- The mocking of the guards and the crown of thorns. Choosing to endure rather than to argue back or overpower them.
- Carrying the heavy cross, after a sleepless night and so much blood loss. Fighting the weakness of His body with each step, and the shock of pain with each fall under its weight. The chaos of the crowds pressing in on Him
- The humiliation of being stripped of His clothes.
- The brutal crucifixion.
- Consider the cost of your sins. In what ways do others pay a price for your sin? Are there persons particularly affected by your impatience, envy, pride, competitiveness, cowardliness, laziness, desire for attention, gossip, or other shortcomings?
- In what ways do you pay a price for the sins of others? How can imitating Christ’s example of forgiveness lift someone up with whom you struggle?
- Consider your darkest moments and your deepest pain. Reflect on how Christ has shared that same experience and suffered the same emotions – anxiety, humiliation, rejection, loss.
- Consider the immense, unconditional love that Christ has for you. Consider the lengths to which He willingly went, to protect and save you – to give you life and joy to the fullest.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Each day this week, ask Christ to show you someone who is suffering. Comfort that person in some way, so as to offer comfort to Christ in His sufferings.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2019
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