Monday, March 29, 2010

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

For the past Sundays of Lent, we have been meditating on the mystery of human iniquity and Divine Mercy. We have seen the deception of Satan’s temptations; how sin brings us nothing but misery, humiliation, and death; and how widespread sin has become for no one is found to be without sin. If the response of man to God’s goodness is sin, the past Sundays have shown us that the response of God to human sin is mercy: the fruitless tree gets a reprieve of life, the prodigal son is welcomed by his Father, and the adulterous woman was forgiven by Christ.

Today, Christ’s journey, as recorded by St. Luke, ends in Jerusalem where Jesus was condemned to death on the Cross. Here, as we look at Jesus on the Cross, we see the cost of human sin. He who is sinless bears the burden of suffering and death. We know he does not deserve it. What has he done to merit the Cross? He is innocent, he is sinless. “What evil has he done? I found him guilty of no capital crime,” said Pontius Pilate. Yet, he hangs on the Cross because he exchanged places with us. He, the Son of God, innocent and without sin, was led to crucifixion while Barabbas, a rebel and a murderer, was released to freedom. We should see ourselves in the person of Barabbas for our sin is a real rebellion against God. Ironically, the name Barabbas means “son of the father” (Bar – Abba).

He exchanged places with us and so he hangs on the cross and there, Satan returns to tempt him one last time. This time, the evil one speaks through the people who surrounded Jesus: “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah, the Christ of God.” But he does not come down from the Cross. He does not save himself. Because of this, he is able to obtain for us forgiveness of sins: “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they do.” Because he did not save himself, he is able to open paradise for us: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus does not claim the kingdoms of the earth by coming down from the Cross but by going up to the Father: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

And so, St. Paul says, “because of this God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord.” We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, for by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.

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