Luke 22: 14 – 23:56
At each celebration of the Mass we proclaim the mystery of faith, the various options all point to the central mystery of the death, resurrection, and second coming of Christ. On Palm Sunday we focus our attention on the first part of the mystery, the death of Jesus. It is certainly fitting to be attentive and reflect on what was done to Jesus, it is just as important, if not more important, to reflect on what Jesus did for us. This shows the selfless love that God pours out upon us, and it is on this that I reflect on today.
This Passion account begins with a Passover Meal, which the apostles soon discovered was much more than that. It is the Last Supper of Jesus in which he instates the Holy Eucharist. Jesus takes the bread and wine and makes them himself, and then gives this real presence of himself to us. This is a total giving of Jesus, described as His body, blood, soul and divinity. Jesus does not hold back, he gives his entire self to us.
He no sooner does this than the apostles get into a discussion of who will betray him that quickly evolves into them arguing over who is the greatest among them. How quickly does humanity enter into even the most sacred moments of our lives! We can be at Mass and in the midst of singing hymns of praise find ourselves judging the people around us, or recalling arguments we thought we left behind. We are no different than the apostles, and the response of Jesus to them, is a response that is just as fitting for us.
Jesus interrupts their argument and tells them that if they want to be the greatest, to be leaders, they must do so by following his example and serve. Jesus leads by serving, and instructs the apostles that they must do the same, and so must we.
Jesus is always aware of the needs of those around us, and it seems not too concerned about his own. On the Mount of Olives we do get a glimpse of the anxiety that he sometime faced, when he asks his Father if the cup of might pass, and ends with the beautiful act of Faith, “not my will, but your will be done.” Whether it was this obedience to His Father, or the healing of the soldier whose ear was severed, the words to the Women of Jerusalem not to weep for him, but for their children, the promise to the good thief that he would be with him in paradise, Jesus gives himself to others.
His final words on the Cross are the words of faith and submission in the will of his father, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
This is what Jesus has done for us, and continues to do for us; love us, forgive us, heal us and redeem us. How can we repay the Lord for all he has done for us? We can begin by surrendering our lives anew to Him on Palm Sunday, and walking with him through this holiest week of the year. This final week of Lent and the Triduum are an opportunity for us to enter more fully into the great Paschal Mystery, and to allow the great and mysterious love of Christ to enter more deeply into our lives. May we be led to experience this love in more personal ways, and to live and share this love more effectively this as we move through this celebration of our redemption.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.