BETRAYAL AND STRENGTH
We enter into Holy Week by celebrating Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion. Always such a sacred event, Palm Sunday is the beginning of the end of our Lenten fast, and focuses our attention on the coming event of the death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christianity under a microscope; the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
This year we read the entire Passion narrative from the Gospel According to St. Mark (Mark 14:1-15:47). I would like to spend this time and reflect – that this is the very reading in which Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist; which is the very source and summit of our Catholic faith. The main teaching which separates Catholics from other Christians is the Eucharist. We have been given the “Gift of gifts!”
At the beginning of the Liturgy, during the Procession of the Palms, we read about Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and cry out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to Come! Hosanna in the highest! (Mark 11:1-10)” It’s a remarkable scene as Christ is praised and adored by the people, and held in the highest esteem! But what happens shortly thereafter? We find out in the Gospel that those same people later turn against Him. I feel this highlights aspects of our own lives.
We’ve all had times where we felt on the top of the world! Everything is running smoothly, people acknowledge us, they compliment us, and we are showered with kindness. Sometimes, however, even as soon as the very next day, these same folks, and oftentimes for reasons unknown, seem to betray us. We’re no longer placed on a pedestal and recognized as someone special. It can be devastating.
That is life. We are a fickle people and we’ve even done that same thing to others. What is our duty then? What can we learn from all of this? We find our answer by observing what our Lord did. He accepted the fact that His Father allowed all of this to happened for a greater good, namely, for the salvation of our souls. Jesus bore the brunt of humility and embarrassment with calm and silence because He understood that what was most important was to do what His Father wanted. It was all part of His plan, God the Father knew all along that His Son would be praised one minute, betrayed and crucified the next. Did Jesus complain or grumble? Of course not. He trusted His Father had a greater purpose for all of this and accepted it, even though He suffered most severely for it. And we are called to do the same thing.
But we don’t have the strength within us to live exactly like Christ. We’re fallen, weak, prone to sin and undisciplined. God knew this and this is precisely why He died for us; to give us the strength (the power) to imitate Him, and He does this through His Most Sacred Body and Blood which we receive at Holy Mass. So today we read the account of the institution of the Eucharist, the source and summit of it all, and we can take this time to reflect at what an utterly remarkable gift we’ve been given. It will give us what we need when God’s mysterious, and often painful will, like that of Christ being betrayed, comes our way. Good Friday always must come before Easter, and one day we will be resurrected and overcome just like He did!