Palm Sunday • Year C

Robert J. Guessetto, O.S.A.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Friary
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lk 19:28-40
Is 50:4-7
Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 Phil 2:6-11
Lk 22:14–23:56

All people who know suffering are embraced in this reading. What we heard is how God’s son embraced our humanness with its pain to bring us His Father’s love and show us a way out of sin’s power. That’s why what we have powerfully remembered, matters. It is the deeper meaning of all we commemorate this holy week.

Many people suffer. So often it is the love of spouses, children, family, friends that eases that pain. There is someone else who does. Jesus emptied himself coming in human likeness. Isaiah gives expression to what Jesus brings: The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced. Jesus himself faced his passion with a dignity and a heartfelt confidence, knowing His Father would not abandon him.

Many suffer for doing what is right and just, for what will bring hope and comfort to another bent over with the burdens carried on their backs. Jesus Christ is the source of their strength and courage.

Hearing again the Passion of Jesus Christ connects us to the sacred core of our faith as Christians. The Son of God, received in Jerusalem with palms and praise, who came to bring us the Father’s love has known personally, has shared with humanity the depths of human suffering on every level: physical, psychological, spiritual.

What we are to take from this Gospel is that Jesus gave all he had so that we would not have to face alone the evil that is around us and, yes, in us. He has broken its power. This spiritual strength is a gift to us, nothing else in the world can offer what Christ and faith in him offer. It is for this reason that we so need to stay connected to Him, to our faith and to His Church which mediates it for us.

In our own brokenness, and sinfulness, Jesus has come to rescue us. Bishop Robert Barron spells it out for us: We all know it, we’re all sinners, we all know what it’s like to move into the space of alienation from God. Jesus goes all the way down, yes, to the limits of Godforsaken-ness. That’s where the Son of God begins to go. Why does he go there? So that even as we run as far as we can away from God, where are we running? Into the arms of God. The Father sends the Son so far out that there’s no place we can run where God can’t find us.

And so, this day, we remember Christ’s journey to the cross. We remember our role in his passion – our own sinfulness. He lifts us up, redeems us and restores our dignity. It is to more fully experience all that this love of God has done for us that we participate in the prayer and worship of this solemn holy week.

However, something more is asked of us. Can we commit ourselves to allow Christ and the divine life to so fill our hearts and souls that we will walk and live in our cities and towns, consciously and intentionally keeping God’s covenant alive in all we say and do?

Let the palm we take home be a reminder of this mission.