Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday and Passion Week

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, 1846
Zacharia, a prophet in the Old Testament, prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem upon a donkey (Zach 9:9). People of importance often made their entrances to towns or cities, seated on a donkey. It was customary for crowds to greet large groups of pilgrims to Jerusalem. Our Lord held special importance: the people laid their clothes in his path, waved olive and palm branches and praised God by singing "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord." (Luke 19:39)

Jesus wants to enter triumphantly into the lives of people today. He wants to be close to us in every circumstance. Yet so many turn from Him. This is the mystery of human freedom which always retains the sad possibility of rejecting God. He loves us so much that He gives us the freedom to love Him or to hate Him.

As He descended down the western slope towards the Temple, Our Savior wept. Seeing Jesus, the disciples were probably befuddled, not understanding why he should cry amidst such acclamation and joy. However, He saw how the people were sunk in sin, blindness and ignorance. His heart was deeply hurt by their impenitence. He had nothing but love and the desire for the good of the very people who rejected Him.

Our Lord loves us the same and wants us to accept his love and be with Him. As we meditate upon the Passion this week, we might examine ourselves to see how often we say "yes" to God and "no" to our selfishness, to our laziness and to everything that amounts to a lack of love, even if is only something small. There are striking contrasts in our hearts. We are capable of the very greatest things and also of the very worst. So, if we wish to possess the divine life and triumph with Jesus, we need to be constant and, through penance, deaden within ourselves anything that separates us from God.

Contemplating Jesus' tremendous love for us, let us recall our own betrayals and denials of Him. Let us remember the times we have deserted Him and sought our own unwholesome desires. Then, let us die to all of this wickedness by being truly sorry and making good confessions in our preparation for Easter joy.
Father Stanley

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