THROUGH HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED
(Sunday April 14, 2019 PALM /PASSION SUNDAY )
Holy Week marks the last week of the Lent season and tells the last days of Christ's life, as well as His death, burial and resurrection. Again, Holy Week is certainly a very sacred time of the year, because it is time for us to commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus' life on earth. These are the days leading up to the great Feast of Easter. The Lenten season of sacrifice and mortification is about to end, but this week is extremely important for all Christians. The main objective of the week is the Passion (suffering) and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events that preceded it.
This is the week of all weeks. A week that brought light to other weeks. A week we cannot forget so easily as far as our salvation is concerned. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Week recounts the dramatic and wonderful events which lead to the Resurrection of Christ on Easter. Palm Sunday represents a preparation, a setting up, for the Resurrection to occur. What is important for us to focus on is that these events recount the extreme love of God to humanity. The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, though a historical event has its inward transformation which is unfathomable.
The series of events in the Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, describes a process of our own transformation, renewal, regeneration, revival and revitalization. Blind belief in historical events is not going to transform us; we must cultivate an attitude that will make this Holy event bear fruit in our Christian lives. For this reason, we celebrate Palm Sunday not as a commemoration of a historical event but as a great mystery and another step in the process of our spiritual transformation. The Gospel story tells of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He rides upon the colt of an ass, a donkey, just as Mary, His mother, rode a donkey into Bethlehem. People lay garments in His path and wave palm branches in celebration.
The people who cheered Jesus in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem seem to have seen beyond the humble appearance to see the most characteristic reality of Jesus. Yet this insight is short-lived, for some of these same people later yelled “crucify him;” They were expecting a worldly and terrestrial king who would throw off the yoke of Roman rule. And so the Light triumphs only for a brief time before it is obscured by their mindset that was focused on political liberation. As we pointed out yesterday, there is no doubt that it was this political mind set and political forces as well as machinations that led to the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. How can we not hear the account of Jesus’ Passion and not be moved by it? The Passion of Jesus moves whoever has the spirit of God. It moves us because Jesus suffered. In the first reading today we heard what we could describe as a prophecy of Jesus’ Passion as it goes “For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face Against insult and spittle.” (Isa 50:5-6). The Psalm today is also in many ways a prophecy of the Passion of Jesus, all who see me deride me. They curl their lips; they toss their heads. ‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him; let him release him if this is His friend.’ Many dogs have surrounded me, a band of the wicked beset me. They tear holes in my hands and my feet. I can count every one of my bones. They divide my clothing among them. They cast lots for my robe.” (Ps 22:7-8, 16-18).
The Passion of Jesus moves us because it is we who have inflicted this suffering on Jesus. It was not just the chief priests and it was not just the cruel Roman soldiers who brought this suffering on Jesus; it was our sins that inflicted this suffering on Jesus and when we sin we crucify Jesus again in our own little world. We nail Him again. So then the account of the Passion of Jesus moves us to flee from sin, to leave sin behind. That is why we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week and as well as in other time. The Passion of Jesus shows that we are sinners who have crucified Jesus - and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we turn to Jesus again and ask for His mercy. And through the Passion of Jesus, we receive forgiveness, “through His wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5). The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is some sort of reference point especially when we are facing the ugly side of life. When we are hurt by things in our own life and hurt by what we see happening in the world around us and need answers and healing and reassurance let us turn to meditate on the Passion of Jesus and find the answer there, “through His wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)
In fact, in Luke’s account of the Passion which we heard today (Year C) there were two occurrences of healing that are recorded only by Luke: Jesus healed the ear of the high priest’s servant which was wounded during His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:51) and secondly the enmity between Herod and Pilate was healed (Luke 23:12). So dear brothers and sisters let us not allow this Holy week to pass us by without having a radical change, without being reconciled to God and to others. Imagine Pilate and Herod one-time political enemies got reconciled and became friends as a result of Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We can see that something positive happened on the day Christ was tried by human judges—Pilate and Herod. We can as well say here that no one who encounters and experiences the Passion of Christ ever remained the same.
The Passion of Christ can have this transformative effect in our Christian lives if we believe what we celebrate during this Holy Week. During this week, let us meditate on the Passion of Jesus, let it become a source of healing for us. Do not waste this week. Spend this week with Jesus meditating on His Passion. Spare your time to involve yourselves to the event of this time that brought about our salvation. Go to Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, participate in the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.
The crowd which welcomed Jesus with palms turned against Him just as quickly and abandoned Jesus. Peter too turned from Jesus to save himself. What about us, are we going to add more to the rejection Christ received during His Passion or to correct the mistakes of the past? During these days, we are all invited to feel like Jesus – to accompany Jesus in His sufferings and death so as to rejoice with Him on Easter Sunday.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to journey with you in your time of passion so as to rise with you on the resurrection day. Amen