Passion (Palm) Sunday



The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint:
I know I shall not be shamed.
(Isaiah 50:7)

Let us pray for those parts of the Church which suffer persecution, derision or scandal, that by joining their sufferings to those of Christ they may triumph over evil.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for societies that are torn apart by violence and oppression, that the voice of peace may ultimately prevail.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for those who are wracked by constant pain, those facing surgical operations and lengthy treatment, that God will use the skills of doctors and nurses to bring them healing.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for ourselves, that we may take heart from the passion of Jesus when faced with the trials and tribulations of our daily lives.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.

None of us gets through life without suffering. In some way or other we undergo things that we would rather avoid. Today we join Jesus at the start of his week of public agony, strengthened by the fact that no suffering can ever be stronger than God’s love for us.

Strangely enough, the events of that first Holy Week, when Jesus was led through suffering to a brutal execution on the cross, are a cause for rejoicing. For we glory in Christ’s death and resurrection since they have set us free and saved us from ultimate oblivion and meaningless.
What God accepted willingly, he accepted for me. But the passion and death of Jesus are not magic. We don’t simply look back at history, recall the awful events and then say all’s well with the world. The Calvary event is not some sort of magic moment with golden dust that has floated down to today. It’s an invitation to join in with the daily passion we see on our streets. It’s all about now and how we react to our own and other people’s distress.
As our TV screens show horrific images of people who are famished, war-torn or denied human rights, what do we do? Do we join the crowd with their “hosannas” or do we offer to lift the burden of the cross? When given the chance to sell out on our principles do we take the hard road or go for the 30 pieces of silver? Are we good at proffering a kiss in public but a knife in the back? Who’s being crucified on our streets this week and how are we responding?
The passion is not magic. It does not offer instant salvation. It has to be shared to have its effect. We can sing all the hymns in Christendom, carry all the palms we can get our hands on, even ride in procession on a donkey. But it’s pure idolatry if we don’t pledge to unite ourselves to the passion of Christ in a real way. We need to make up in our own bodies what is lacking in the suffering of Christ. Christ’s suffering was not imperfect, but it calls out to us to be imitated, to find completion in our own embrace.
The way we accept suffering and the way we react to the suffering of others is the key to the passion. We can embrace the cross as something which can enrich us, or we can run in fear from pain. We can rush to the aid of our neighbour, or show a crucifying indifference to the suffering of others. Our choice will either diminish or ennoble us.



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