The Lord God has given men a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.(P) The word of the Lord.
All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: "He relied on the Lord; let Him deliver him, let Him rescue him, if He loves him." (R)
Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. (R)
They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. (R)
I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: "You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him, all you descendants of Israel!" (R)
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(P) The word of the Lord.
When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village straight opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, "Why are you doing this?" reply, "The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once."
So they went off, and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blesses is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!"(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
For the full version of the text see our previous Palm Sunday » posting.
Today, we commemorate two significant events in the last days of Jesus' life on earth: Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Passover and His painful sufferings.
From the 11th chapter of Mark's gospel, we learn that when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds who had come to celebrate Passover, surrounded and joyously welcomed Him by spreading their coats on the ground in front of him, waving palm leaves and singing "Hosanna", Mark (11:1-10). But a few days later, we observe from the passion narrative of the same gospel that Jesus was left completely alone in his suffering and death, Mark (14:1-15:47). Having been betrayed and denied by his disciples, and abandoned by his followers, Jesus faced His agony in utter desolation, Mark (14:5). He felt isolated, even abandoned by God as He endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, insults, beatings, and abandonment. Feeling the separation from His Father, Jesus, cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", Mark (15:34).
Abandonment is a common theme in all the synoptic gospels. But to stress the feeling of abandonment and desolation, Mark reports that all of Jesus' disciples "left Him and fled" after His arrest, Mark (14:50). And he also writes, curiously, about a young man with nothing on himself but only a linen cloth; he was following Jesus but, after all others had fled, also ran away naked when the soldiers seized him, Mark (14:51-52). There is no mention of the name of the young man. But it is traditionally believed that the man was Mark himself. The man probably did not mind facing such an embarrassment and humiliation just to save his own life and abandon Jesus to suffer alone.
Like Jesus, we too have our moments of joy, happiness, triumph and victory. There are times when we rejoice; when we succeed in life and are elated; when we are well settled in life; everything sails smoothly; the winds blow certainly in our favour; our wishes are fulfilled; our jobs are secure; love is plentiful; health is perfect. There are also other joyful moments when people acclaim, applaud, praise, honour and support us. That is like people singing hosannas to us as they did to Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. Then, there is the other side of life, our moments of passion. Like Jesus, we go through fear, distress, anguish, and sorrow and agony and intense suffering. We undergo betrayal, denial, indifference, mockery, loneliness, rejection, false accusation, unjust treatment, insults, humiliation, physical agony, mental torture and death.
During this week, we have the unique opportunity to, not only recall the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also to contemplate on His perfect obedience and humility. As He bore all the suffering and evil with total surrender and complete submission to God, so also can we surrender to God's will even if it means facing pain and struggle, instead of clinging to pride, independence or self-reliance. Following Jesus' example can help us greatly in dealing with our daily struggles. One thing is certain; God does not ask us to endure more than Christ did and He comforts us in all our afflictions, 2 Corinthians (1:4).(P) Amen.
God Bless You!