Reflection for Palm Sunday
Out of love for us
After five short weeks of Lent we find ourselves once again in Holy Week, the week in which we walk with Jesus from His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to His institution of the Eucharist, His Passion and death, burial and resurrection.
The thought of what it must have been like for Jesus as He entered the holy city, knowing that despite the cheering crowds there were those who would soon take His life. Each year as we hear the first Gospel of Palm Sunday and Jesus entry into Jerusalem I try and place myself in the crowd and want to shout out “why Jesus do you have to die?” Somehow despite knowing He will rise on Easter Sunday the knowledge of the agony He is about to undertake makes me want to shout NO, but of course then there is the reality of Jesus’ words to the Father, “not my will but yours” those words which we strive to live by and for which Jesus accepted His Passion.
Why, because He loves us, as He often told His disciples, “no one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend” In loving us Jesus also invited us to therefore love one another and He loves us. In His suffering He provides hope for us in our suffering, reminding us that suffering is a part of life and that even in a society which has many quick fixes, our healing is found in our faith in Jesus and our desire to face the challenges of life with the same trust in God as Jesus had. What is so powerful each Palm Sunday is to hear those welcoming cheers for Jesus as he enters Jerusalem and then to have Him suffer the humiliation of His Passion and death. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching we find His message that real joy and peace can never be found by trying to avoid suffering and death but by accepting them in the knowledge we are not alone. Yes the painful reality is that Jesus had to die for us, but the greater reality is found in His promise of new life in and through His Precious Body and Blood.
So we begin Holy Week, our palms are raised on high as we walk with Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem, we rejoice at the gift of the Eucharist, we share the guilt and shame of the crucifixion and death and then the joy of resurrection. Take a moment during these holy days to pause and reflect upon what Jesus means for you and give thanks that together with our sisters and brothers in faith we can proclaim Jesus words, “I am the resurrection and the life, anyone who believes in me, even though they die, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25, 26).
Fr. Ian Riswick, chaplain of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in Toronto