As we listen again today to the Passion of Jesus, I’m reminded how much God’s ways are not our own. Even Jesus, who throughout his earthly ministry was in intimate communion with the Father, experienced a certain ‘darkness’ in fulfilling the Father’s will in his Passion and Death, and thus exclaimed from the cross: “My God, why have you abandoned me?”
I find comfort in these words of Jesus as perhaps each of us are called to do as we bear the cross and sufferings that are a part of our lives. How often do we experience the ‘sense’ of God’s absence as we suffer? Jesus shows us this Holy Week once again to trust the fidelity of God as we too do our best to carry out God’s will in our lives, especially when it entails sacrifice and suffering, in the midst of uncertain worldly outcomes.
In Matthew’s Gospel today, the people declare Jesus a blasphemer as he claims to be God. Even as he hangs from the cross, they fail to recognize the truth of Jesus’ claim, as they taunt him by saying:
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel! Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, “I am the son of God.” (Matthew 27: 40 -43)
Indeed, Jesus proves once again he is the Son of God by his humble obedience to the Father’s will. And the Father’s will would not save Jesus from death on the cross, as this was the manner chosen by which Jesus as the Son of God would save us!
St. Catherine of Siena recognized that it was not the wood of the cross nor the nails that held Jesus bound to that cross – but only love for the Father’s will, and love for us and our salvation.
As we accompany Christ this Holy Week, may we have the grace to recognize once again the depths of Jesus’ love for us, and the humble obedience he has in lovingly fulfilling the Father’s mysterious will.
May we recognize in the passion of Jesus that he is with us in our suffering.
May this Holy Week also give us the grace and the eyes to recognize Jesus in those who still suffer in the world today. And most especially, may our humble walk with Jesus in this Holy Week instruct us in our own ability and willingness to be as loving to him in those who need our love, compassion and understanding today.
Most especially today, let us remember in prayer our brothers and sisters in the faith who were murdered as they sang their praise to God during their Palm Sunday observances in the Coptic Churches in Egypt. May they rest in peace today. Let us also pray for the many who were wounded in these terror attacks, and for all those who are still persecuted and oppressed because of their faith today.