for Sunday, April 9, 2017
"Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit." These words from the account of the Passion of Jesus Christ according to Matthew are so strong. The Passion ends with death and darkness and the disciples in total confusion. Palm Sunday always gives us the story of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus.
Still we must listen to the other readings. Isaiah tell us today that the Prophets could see this death but also could see the Messiah with these words: "The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." Jesus knows the Prophet Isaiah and lives out these words. Jesus is able to embrace suffering and death with a confidence that God Himself, God the Father, will not let Him be put to shame, but will vindicate Him. Jesus' confidence in the Father was surely tested in the last hours of His life, but Jesus clings to His Father.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, also speaks of the plans of the Father for Jesus: "Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Jesus dies for us. In the midst of incredible sufferings, Jesus clings to His love for all people and clings to His will to save all. We who suffer smaller pains in this life often find it difficult to offer our sufferings for anyone.
And so we come to the Passion once more. We can listen to the struggle of Jesus and the struggle of His followers. All of them knew the Scriptures, but only Jesus had a full understanding of what was about to happen. The followers really could not believe that He would be put to death. We are called to recognize that we are part of His followers. Like them, we find it difficult to believe that He will die. Even more difficult for us is to recognize that it is we who help put Him to death by our sin and our lack of love. We must walk with Him today and in this Holy Week, acknowledging our sins and our lack of love and praying that He will raise us up with Him.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 50.4-7
Second Reading: Philippians 2.6-11
Gospel: Matthew 26.14 - 27.66
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: