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Vatican Congregation for the Clergy on Palm Sunday: The Great Hour of Salvation Awaits Us

By Vatican Congregation for the Clergy
April 2nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

By the proclamation of the Passion we are finally placed before the great hour of our Salvation.  We anticipate the events of Holy Week right up to the silence of the tomb.  Let us therefore join the Lord's great hour by preparing for it with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Let us listen to the words of Our Lord Jesus and contemplate His actions that are overflowing with love and mercy.  

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - In the entrance procession that starts today's Liturgy, the Church reveals an unimaginable treasure for our contemplation as we stand beside the disciples and the rejoicing crowd observing Christ's humble entrance into Jerusalem on a foal.

Through the First Reading and the Psalm we hear of the 'trepidation' expressed in the Old Testament for the awaited Saviour that reaches out towards Mount Calvary, already having the scene of the crucifixion before their very eyes.

By the proclamation of the Passion we are finally placed before the great hour of our Salvation.  We anticipate the events of Holy Week right up to the silence of the tomb.  Let us therefore join the Lord's great hour by preparing for it with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Let us listen to the words of Our Lord Jesus and contemplate His actions that are overflowing with love and mercy.  

They are actions which, notwithstanding the experience of our weakness before the force of evil, give us the light of divine Mercy and are the only thing that can renew and make us solid in the faith.  The second reading helps us to understand that a very special light originated from the Mystery of the Annunciation in which we celebrate the very instance of the Son of God's human existence reminding us: 

"Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness." (Phil 2: 6)  From Mary of Nazareth's 'yes' the Lord Jesus took flesh from her immaculate womb and so initiated that truly Priestly love that would find its fulfilment in the cry of the cross.

Through the Liturgy we have a privileged perspective that helps us to contemplate the Gospel account 'together' in the Church, which was born from Christ's wounded side, because we are able to behold the events that the Apostles didn't understand. 

Christ instituted the Sacrament of His Presence and His Sacrifice with immense love knowing He would be misunderstood, betrayed and abandoned by those He loved the most.  He allows us to behold the love and humility with which He affirmed His identity as the Son of God, accepting insults, beatings, flagellation and, finally, crucifixion.   

This privileged perspective also calls us to a radical humility as, having witnessed the cowardice with which Judas handed the Master over to the High Priest, and having accompanied Peter to the courtyard where he betrayed the Lord three times, we are able to recognise our own fragility.  We are all fragile, we are all sinners and our freedom is strengthened and illuminated only by grace.

We must, therefore, ask ourselves what saved Peter and not Judas from the slavery of betrayal?  They were both Apostles and both loved by Christ.  Also, we must ask what will save us from the darkness of sin?  What, in the end, enables us to start again even if we can't confide in ourselves?  Certainly, there are not general rules because he who was scandalised by the use of perfumed oil abandoned the Lord only a short while later. 

Having a 'fair and pharisaic' passion for God won't save us as that 'virtue' caused the High Priest to tear his clothes accusing Christ of blasphemy when He is the same God the High Priest was 'defending'.  Neither is Salvation about personal commitment as Peter perjured himself saying that he would rather die than betray the Master, only a few hours later to hear the cock crow stripping him of his fine words. 

What will allow us to withstand the cross, to endure the contempt of the world and the prospect of death?  The answer is sincerely, totally and freely being 'compromised' with Christ.  To allow Christ that look of love that comes before any merit and embraces every limitation and sin.  Only then will we have the strength to stay at the foot of the cross. 

Let us ask Our Lady of Sorrows, who silently stayed at the foot of the cross, to obtain the grace of total commitment for us; the grace to say 'yes' with her and so accept whatever sorrow that brings.  Amen!

Citations of
Mc 11,1-10: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abthbk.htm
Is 50,4-7: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9aggyjbr.htm  
Ph 2,6-11: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ajjvpb.htm  
Mc 15,1-39: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ab0k0o.htm  

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