Palm Sunday - Fr. Pete Iorio
March 27, 2021 - 5:00 PM
March 28, 2021 - 8:30 AM, 1:00 PM
When I was in the Holy Land 3 years ago, our group walked the Via Dolorosa, (The Sorrowful Way in Jerusalem). It recalls what we heard the Gospel today. It was a very powerful part of our pilgrimage. 2000 years after the death of Jesus, it is a very built-up part of the city and the route ends, not outside the city walls, but inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is definitely inside city limits. An image that sticks in my mind is that as we wound our way through the alleys early in the morning to get ahead of the shop owners and shoppers, I noticed a girl of about 7 or 8 watching us. I smiled at her. She responded by sticking out her tongue at me. And at that moment, I remembered the mockery that Jesus endured as he walked the Via Dolorosa. He chose this path out of love and obedience to His Father, but that did not mean he felt the human desire to have the cup of suffering taken away. “Not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus is at the center of the Passion, but according to Scripture scholar Fr. Eugene Laverdiere, the followers of Jesus play an important part. They are stand ins for the community to whom Mark was writing and for all who would share the experience in the future. That would include all of us. So, the Passion is also the story of Jesus’ followers, challenged to die with Christ, to drink the cup of suffering that He drinks.
Pilgrims who walk the Way of the Cross stand witness to the story of each person’s agony because suffering and death belong to the narrow road of Jesus. Jesus does not glorify them, or call them beautiful, good, or something to be desired. Jesus does not call for heroism or suicidal self-sacrifice. No, Jesus invites us to look at the reality of our existence and reveals this harsh reality as the way to new life. The core message of Jesus is that real joy and peace can never be reached while bypassing suffering and death, but only by going right through them.
Like Jesus, we all have a choice when it comes to suffering and death. We can deny this reality of life, or we can face it. When we face it not in despair, but with the eyes of Jesus, we discover that where we least expect it, something is hidden that holds a promise stronger than death itself. Jesus lived his life with the trust that God’s love is stronger than death and because of that, death does not have the last word. He invites us to face the painful reality of our existence with the same trust.
This is what Lent and especially Holy Week are all about.
We can try to live Holy Week offering our prayers as an entreaty to our God whose love embraces every suffering, and every darkness.