Weekly Reflection: Palm Sunday


APRIL 8 AND 9, 2017

One of the subtle lessons that my young students fail to appreciate is that repetition is the ‘mother’ of all learning. For many of us, that feeling of here we go again pervades this Holy Week that starts today, with familiar stories, talk of the Triduum, Paschal Mystery and Resurrection. It’s always the same, Christ suffers, dies, rises and eventually ascends back to heaven and sends that Holy Spirit that we always hear about, but never quite see or get, for the most part.

            But it is that repetition of these familiar ideas and stories that reinforces that in the Paschal Mystery we truly discover who we are and what we are about.

            The action begins today with Jesus riding that same old donkey, the same old people excitedly waving palm branches today, but screaming for his blood in four days; what’s new here?

St. Paul tells us that Jesus was human like us in all things but sin, and in today’s story we find him blithely facing that great equalizer, death. For many of us, its like seeing a classic horror movie unfolding before us, one in which we find ourselves screaming at the television, “Jesus turn around, don’t go there.”  But he goes, accepting that inevitability death comes for us all.

            We need to grasp that when God became one of us, God didn’t just come here to boss us around like an older sibling or an overbearing know-it-all, but he came to teach and to model for us how it’s supposed to be done.  We are the only creatures created by God who recognize and dread death.  Jesus shows us today that death is just another part of life, part of that great mystery of birth, death, and rebirth.  If we learn the lesson, reinforced by the beautiful repetition of Holy Week, our faith should enable us to let go of those “things” that don’t matter: money, power, and prestige. Then we can face our own deaths, with the grace and joy that Jesus models for us this week. That would be a wonderful thing, because that is why God became human in the first place, to save us from sin and conquer death.

-Barry Zavislan © 2017