Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday - Holy Week 2020

My wife and I streamed the Palm Sunday Mass from our local parish.  It is so odd to not be there in person.  In a strange way, because I couldn't be there physically, I found myself more attentive than usual to the readings, particularly this longest Gospel of the liturgical year.

I had three small thoughts I'd like to share:

1.  Physical proximity does not always mean spiritual proximity.  Even though wiser people than I like Jimmy Akin have disputed this, I would imagine that many of the people in the crowd who cried out "Hosanna!" were also in the crowd 5 days later shouting "Crucify Him!"  And yet, they were as physically close to Jesus so as to lay down palms in front of Him.  While watching the mass on the computer, I long to be there physically.  But I am reminded that Christ is still present spiritually if I call on Him.

2.  Whenever we read this Gospel at mass, we read the part for the crowd.  The part that always gets me is when we have to shout "Crucify Him!" or "Let Him be crucified!"  It is so specific and barbaric.  It isn't just a cry for His death, but that He be killed in the worst way imaginable.  This was really hit home to me by Fr. Larry Richards who said "Every time we sin, we are in the crowd crying 'Crucify Him!'  'I'm sorry Jesus, I know that you said what I'm doing here is a sin, but I want to do it and someone's going to have to die for it and it's certainly not going to be me so You're going to have to go to the cross!'"  It was a very dramatic and harsh statement, but it made the reality of what my sin cost the God who loves me.

3.  I do not remember who said it, but I read someone say, "It was not the nails that held Him to the cross, but His love."  As God, Jesus could have ended His suffering at any moment.  They even taunt Him saying "He saved others, why can't He save Himself?"  But He chooses to see it through until the end because He loves me.   When going over the Passion in class this year, one of my very bright students asked "Does God want us to feel guilty over this?"  It was an excellent question.  I answered that the point of remembering Christ's suffering is not so that we feel guilty.  It is so that we can remember how much we are worth.  I often think of how my parents, my family, my wife, and my friends have sacrificed for me, in both big ways and small ways.  We show each other how much we are loved by the way we give our lives away.  Jesus has demonstrated to us that He loves me so much that He would rather die the worst death imaginable just so He could be with me.  I think if I can really let this truth sink into my heart, then my life can really change.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below as we enter into this Holy Week unlike any other that we have encountered.

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