We are at the point of celebrating Palm Sunday. This celebration of course recalls Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to undergo His saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This is referred to as the Paschal Mystery. We enter Holy Week and through this celebration are challenged to enter into the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate.
These events only become saving events for us if we make them our own and enter into them by living them out. How can we do this? By doing what Jesus did. So what did He do? I submit He did four things.
First, Jesus entered into the Paschal Mystery. He could have stayed away from Jerusalem, but He chose to follow His Father’s plan. Second, he accepted the Passion, submitting His will to the Father’s. Third, it was also something He offered for our salvation. Fourth, it was done with faith and confidence in His Father.
I would like to suggest we use the letters of the word “palm” to call to mind what we need to do to imitate Jesus.
P – Paschal Mystery, Christ’s Suffering, Death, and Resurrection is what we enter. Let us be aware of that every time we face suffering of whatever kind. We have been called to enter into Christ’s Suffering and Death to share His Resurrection.
A – Accept it is the first thing we must do with our suffering, just as Jesus accepted it in the Garden of Gethsemane, saying “Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from Me, but not what I will but what you will.” We too are called to say a prayer of acceptance in suffering, to say to the Father “Your will be done.”
L – Lift it up as an offering. Jesus offered up His Passion to save us. In union with Him we can also offer up our suffering for our own spiritual good or for others. But it takes a decision and at least offering a little prayer in our heart.
M – My Father. The Father is the one to whom we offer it just as Jesus placed himself in the Father’s hands with confidence. We are not surrendering to blind fate or an indifferent force, but to our loving Father. So we can say with the prophet Isaiah “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.” Because “we know that all things work for good for those who love God,” as St. Paul tells us.
PALM – So when we enter the Paschal Mystery, let us accept it as God’s will, lift it up in offering, and with trust in my Father.
The Gospel for Palm Sunday tells us that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb,” and sometimes in our suffering we are like those women. We are hoping against hope, and it seems all is lost. Let us then remember how the story and the Paschal Mystery ends – “He rose again on the third day.”
By Monsignor William Baker, pastor of All Saints Parish, McAdoo.