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Friday, 30 March 2012

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday Year B (April 1 2012)

                                     Theme: Learning to obey through humility and suffering

In our world today, one comes to discover that obedience as a virtue is only practiced when it is convenient and favourable for the individual. Most of us prefer to obey not just when it is easier but when we have something to gain from it. Obedience is a difficult virtue to cultivate otherwise there would not be incessant cases of people breaking civil and moral laws every day. Obedience involves self-emptying (kenosis) because it is the offering up of one’s will to do the will of another. It is the letting go of our ideologies, intentions and actions to adopt those of the other and sometimes, unpleasant ones.

Today being the last Sunday of lent which we traditionally call Palm/Passion Sunday, the Church presents to us through the readings, the examples of Christ who learnt to obey through humility and suffering. In the first part of today’s liturgy (the blessing and procession with palms), we see Jesus’ great obedience to the will of his Father by triumphantly entering the Holy City. Jesus was not just triumphant in the manner with which he entered Jerusalem, he was more triumphant in his obedience to accept death, death on a cross, even against the wish of his special friend Peter (cf. Mk 8:33).

That is to say that we can regard ourselves as being successful not when we win a legal battle or an 

election or achieve material success or honour but when  we win the battle over sin, when we conquer our selfish desires to do the will of God and when we obey against the inclination to disobey. Our triumph should not be measured by physical achievements but by the spiritual values we have acquired through the grace of God. That is why St. Paul through the second reading (Phil 2:6-11) teaches us that to be triumphant just as Christ was, we should empty ourselves, be humble and obedient even to the point of death. We should imitate Christ who though was God, did not count equality with God, he emptied himself taking the form of a slave, humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. And because of this, God exalted him and gave him the name above every name that commands much respect and authority. Humility was the greatest machinery of Christ’s obedience.

How obedient have we been to God, the Church and the State? Sometimes, we consider our positions in the Church as clerics and religious and we use these privileges to annoy God by the horrible things we do, after all we are custodians of the law and the law was made for man and not man for the law. We also tend to rub shoulders with higher ecclesiastical authorities because of what we feel we have achieved either in office or learning. The laity are also not excluded, some think that by virtue of their exalted positions in the Church or State they cannot be obedient to some competent authorities. As Christians, we must learn to put aside our achievements or personalities and humble ourselves in obedience to established authorities.

In the first reading (Is. 50:4-7), the Prophet Isaiah using himself as a pre-figure of Christ describes how he exercises his prophetic role in obedience to God and how God always assisted him. The prophet was very humble and obedient to God in his prophetic assignment and this attracted so many enemies to his side who caused him much suffering. Even in this midst of this suffering, he did not relent because he knew he would not be disgraced.

Therefore, in our obedience and humility, we must anticipate suffering. We suffer when we obey God and disobey the world or when we keep ourselves abased for God’s sake. This was exactly what we encountered in the passion narrative today (Mk. 14:1-15,47). Jesus suffered in the hands of the Jewish authorities because he was obedient to do the will of His father to their own discomfort. They had to crucify him at last and the same people who sang his praises also chorused “crucify him”.

Beloved brethren, we are all invited today to imitate Jesus. He is our model in faith and virtue. We should learn from his unconditional obedience to God even in difficult moments, we should learn from his humility though he was God and we should also learn from his docile attitude towards suffering. No matter what height we might have achieved, no matter how much people love or praise us, we must remain humble because the same people who will praise us will also condemn us. But when we are on the right path, we have nothing to fear. God loves you.     


*** Please feel free to share your reactions, comments and contributions with me after reading this reflection in the comment box below. They are highly appreciated. I wish you the best of the Holy Week celebrations. I love you all and pray for God's blessings on you. ***

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:12 pm

    This is a wonderful reflection I must confess but since Christ has died for us, do we need to suffer again? Hasn't his death ended all our problems?

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  2. Jesus Christ, in Matt. 10:38 Jesus said, "he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Jesus defines discipleship as one's willingness to suffer with Him. Being a disciple of Jesus not only means having faith in Him, but offering our sufferings to the Father as He did.In John 12:24 he tells us unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone and bears no fruit. Jesus is teaching that suffering and death are part of every human life, and it is only through suffering and death that we obtain the glory of resurrection.

    St. Paul also in Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs with Christ, but only if we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. Paul is teaching that suffering must be embraced in order to obtain the glory that the Father has bestowed upon Jesus. In Col. 1:24 Paul rejoices in his sufferings and completes what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body. This proves the Catholic position regarding the efficacy of suffering. Is there something lacking in Christ's sufferings? Of course not. But because Jesus loves us so much, He allows us to participate in His redemptive suffering by leaving room in His mystical body for our own suffering. Our suffering, united with our Lord's suffering, furthers the work of His redemption. There are many, many other passages in Sacred Scripture that make this same point.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments, remarks and observations are allowed to enable my readers freely express their opinions concerning issues raised in this post. However, while I recommend the observance of the rule of courtesy for every comment, comments on this post do not in any way express my personal opinion. They are strictly the opinions of those who made the comments.

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