Holy Week begins with a parade. Palm fronds waving, “Hosannas” shouted, children and adults so caught up in the hysteria that they throw their garments into the streets to carpet the way of the Messiah, the great liberator, as he rides into Jerusalem astride a donkey.
But before the end of the week this Messiah will be crucified amidst waving Roman army banners and shouted curses. How could humanity be so fickle that we could attend a parade and a crucifixion of the same person during the same week, and be caught cheering at both events? On Sunday Jesus was honored as he approached the eastern gate of the city riding on a donkey, and on Friday he was executed outside the western gate. He did not turn out to be the kind of Messiah they were expecting.
How can we understand this week of irony, this week of agony? This is the week when the best of God and the worst of humanity collided. Every moment was filled with passion and significance
And you are I are all part of this drama. Our involvement in Christ’s passion may not be as intense as the people we read about in today’s passion. But it is a great opportunity for us to reexamine our lives and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone in today’s gospel inter-acted with Jesus. Where are we in this story?
At times we may have recognized our kinship with Judas as he sold his own soul for thirty pieces of silver. We, too, have made some foolish mistakes in our life that seem can never be corrected.
We have felt the frustration of Pilate as he tried in vain to wash his hands of innocent blood. We may have condemned others through rash judgment and have ruined the good name of another. And it is always on our conscience.
We have wept with Mary as she helplessly observed the agony of her beloved Son. How often we have helplessly stood at the bed of a loved one who was critically ill or dying. And how often we have shared tears of remorse.
We have known the shame of Peter as he denied his best friend. There may have been times when we betrayed a confidence of our closest friend.
And time and time again, like Simon, we have been asked to carry a cross, crosses that we have not selected but have been placed upon us. In these crosses, we too are part of the plan of redemption – sharing in the passion of Jesus for the redemption of the world.
As we enter this most sacred week, as we celebrate this Palm Sunday Mass, let us pray that our lives will reflect this same kind of sacrificial love, a love rich in mercy and forgiveness.