Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Palm Sunday 2019: The Homage of Unconditional Obedience

April 14, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Our Lenten journey for this year began with the story of how the Spirit led Jesus to the desert to be tempted by the devil. There, the intention of the Incarnation was made clear: “That the Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.” He engaged in a spiritual battle with Satan who sought to destroy man by seducing him to sin. Sin, which entered into the world through the disobedience of one man, must be destroyed through the obedience of the Son of God. Christ humbled himself by coming in human likeness and by his obedience until death, death on a Cross.

In the desert, the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth which he would easily give Jesus if only he knelt to worship him. The Lord could have easily received power and glory from the devil but he refused to receive it from him. instead, in the garden, even though he was in so much agony that his sweat became like drops of blood, the Lord knelt and prayed to his Father: “Not my will but yours be done.” In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve refused God the homage of their unconditional obedience. They wanted to be like God by following their own will. They ate the forbidden fruit and through their disobedience, sin entered the world and together with sin entered death. Jesus offered to God what Adam and Eve refused to offer: the homage of unconditional obedience. He, who is God, emptied himself. He took upon himself the opposite direction which Adam and Eve aspired to take. Our parents aspired to be as great as God. Jesus went down to be a slave: “I am among you as one who serves.”

It is in the humiliation of the Cross that the Lord conquered the arrogance of Satan. By the depth of his suffering and humiliation, Jesus ended the reign of sin by invoking upon us the forgiveness of God: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” By enduring the agony of the Cross, Jesus satisfied the demands of justice He atoned for our sins. Thus, he is able to obtain the freedom of Barabbas. The Son of God liberated the criminal by dying in his stead. Rightfully did the thief say: “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Because Jesus is without sin, he is able to atone for us. By atoning for our sins, he is able to give the repentant thief the promise: ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

As Jesus was told by Satan to jump from the parapet of the temple, so now, he was dared: “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” But as he refused to jump from the top of the temple, so now he refused to come down from the Cross. He stayed on the Cross until he commended to the Father his spirit. He stayed on the Cross until he breathed his last. And so he glorified God. In doing so, he destroyed the work of the devil. The people who saw the spectacle returned home beating their breasts. By their repentance, they obtained mercy and forgiveness. Jesus brought back to God his prodigal children.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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