The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Palm Sunday reflections

How were we saved?

How did Jesus save us?  Was it because he suffered and died for us?  Was it because he made the ultimate sacrifice?  Was it not because, in the words of the Second Reading from Philippians, he "emptied himself" totally and in so doing became filled with the Spirit of his Father.  He clung to nothing; he let go of everything.  (That is what we find so hard.)

Jesus suffered obviously in his body and he underwent pain that we associate with the more barbaric forms of torture in our own day.  But he must also have suffered psychologically and this pain may have been even more intense.  He saw his mission collapse all around him in total failure.  His disciples had all, for the sake of their own skins, taken to their heels.  Would anyone remember anything he taught or did?  There was, at this special time of need, a terrible loneliness.  His disciples fell asleep in the garden when he especially needed their support.  They ran off as soon as people came to arrest Jesus.  Even the Father seems to be silent, the Father who could send legions of angels to rescue him - but apparently did nothing.  There is the final poignant cry from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

At the moment of his death, Matthew in today's Gospel reading says that Jesus "released the spirit".  It is a way of saying that he breathed his last breath and died.  But it also has the other meaning that the life, sufferings and death of Jesus, when properly understood, released a power into the world, the power of the Spirit of God, a Spirit with which Jesus himself was filled. Jesus' followers will soon become filled with that Spirit also.

Hosanna !! and Crucify him !!! …

The crying out of these words, we hear side by side in today's liturgy of the word. In fact, less than a week,
Precisely five days separates them. On Sunday He is called a King by the crowds and on Friday - probably the same crowds - call for His death. Often it is the same in our lives; after days of glory will suddenly come, days of disaster and mortification, days of difficulty and fear.
Do not forget that, after Palm Sunday with its "Hosanna" comes Good Friday with the cry "Crucify Him". But also don't forget that after Good Friday comes Sunday of the Resurrection, with its truth: "I am the Resurrection and the Life, who believes in me, even if he dies will live with me".

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