Palm Sunday: Coming Face to Face with Jesus
When we encounter Jesus and the Gospel, we immediately sense that we are dealing with something that is not of this world. To be a Christian is not the same as being a member of an organization. When we join an organization, we make a commitment to the goals and objectives of the organization, but we still have our own private lives that we live outside of the meetings and activities of the organization.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (CATHOLIC ONLINE) - Christianity is essentially different. When we embrace Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, we are faced with the reality that Jesus encompasses our entire being. Christianity is a way of life. Jesus wants to send his Spirit through every door and window of our soul.
Pope John Paul II once wrote: "It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one's whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life. It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived, in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters" (Veritatis Splendor, 88).
On Palm Sunday, we come face to face with Jesus. Thus, we come face to face with the reality of how we are to live our lives each day.
Jesus, the Savior of the world and the king of the universe was born in the humility of Bethlehem. All throughout the Gospels he taught his apostles and disciples the importance of humility.
His followers had already heard his piercing words: "blessed are the meek" and "blessed are the peacemakers". But, he continued to affirm the importance of the virtue of humility when he held a child and said: "unless you become like a child, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God". The Apostles continued to struggle with pride and Jesus continued to teach its importance. "Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave".
When the first Palm Sunday took place, Jesus, the king of heaven and earth, once again gave a lesson of humility. He entered into Jerusalem riding upon a donkey.
His humble entrance into Jerusalem clearly illustrates that God is humble. God in his might, power and majesty, is also a humble God. He is not like the gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans. He is not like the powerful people of yesterday and today that will do anything in order to gain prestige, power and money.
Christianity is all-encompassing. The way of life that we are called to live is essentially different from anything known to humanity before the coming of Christ and even after his coming. For this reason, the Incarnation of the Word made flesh is the most unique event in human history.
Msgr. Luigi Giussani, an Italian priest and founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation wrote: "And this is what sparks hostility to him. While he calls himself "master" and asks to be followed, one can recognize and go with him or decide not to, and there is still room for mere indifference. But when his proposal clearly claims to enter the dominion of our freedom, he is either accepted and it becomes love, or rejected and it becomes hostility.
In order to acknowledge such a claim, the person who lends an ear to it must renounce himself, sacrifice the autonomy of his own criterion and he must do so in such an appreciable way, as only happens through love. If an individual rejects this self-renunciation, then a fundamental aversion sets in, seeking justification in every possible way".
The mysteries surrounding Holy Week offer a contrast between the humility of Jesus and the perverse pride of Caiphas, the Pharisees, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Judas and all those who cried out that he be crucified.
The remedy for pride is the virtue of humility. This is the solution for a world so filled with sin and corruption. The Catholic Church in America could be more effective and more relevant in the life of people if all of us were shining examples of the humility of Jesus. Pope Benedict once warned that pride is the cause of spiritual blindness.
As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, he does not water down the truth of the revelation that he is the Messiah. He is true God and true Man, the Incarnate Word, the one who was to come not to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus, even though humble, kind, compassionate and gentle, cannot deny the truth of who he is. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The simple and humble people of the Holy Land came out to proclaim the truth that Jesus is the Lord: Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
And yet, as the multitude proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, there was already at hand a large number of people who had rejected Jesus. They were already getting ready for the first Good Friday. These were the proud who were incapable of believing that Jesus is the Lord.
Just like on the first Good Friday, many today refuse to leave aside their pride and fully live the Gospel. Only the humble can experience the loving presence of Jesus in their lives and be true witnesses of the Gospel.
Father James Farfaglia is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Father has a hard hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum. He has also published a book called Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life. He is a contributing writer to Catholic Online.
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