Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord The journey of Lent brings us to an encounter with the cross. During Lent, we have been led more deeply into questions at the heart of our faith: Who is God? And who are we, the Church? The Gospel of Matthew indicates that, in the crucifixion, God’s true nature is most fully revealed in Jesus. In Jesus, God is the self-emptying One, who embraces humility and suffers rejection, as Paul tells the Philippians. God’s power is redefined, present not in coercion and violence, but in Jesus’ unbounded love. We the Church can learn who we are, the followers of the Crucified One, when we bear crosses that offer life and hope to the world. We more fully become the Church when we empty ourselves by sharing in others’ sufferings, rejecting violence, and taking risks for justice and reconciliation. Like Jesus, we may reveal God’s power as compassion and mercy. ENDURING HOPE Today’s passage from Isaiah presents us with a common human dilemma: what do we do with our suffering? The speaker describes himself as God’s faithful servant, who suffers beatings and mockery. We can’t be sure who the speaker is, but we can see his extraordinary response. He chooses not to fight back, not to respond to violence with violence. He chooses to endure with hope that God, in God’s own way, will deliver and vindicate him. Christians later saw this passage as a poignant description of Jesus’ suffering in his passion. We all have many experiences of tragic or undeserved suffering. We might desire to run from our pain, or to inflict suffering upon others, or to live in despair. In faith, we are invited to share in the suffering of Jesus, sharing also with all who suffer similarly. We can place our wounds in God’s hands. We may live in enduring hope that Christ is indeed present and accompanies us in our pain. In God’s own way, our suffering may be transformed, so to serve God’s purposes. A NEW KINGDOM The Gospel of Matthew, using various symbols from scripture, presents Jesus as the true and victorious king who begins a new kingdom. After his royal entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus ascends his scandalous and paradoxical throne, the cross. The cross reveals the nature of his kingdom, based on God’s forgiveness and sacrificial love. Evil forces thrive when violence stirs even more violence. By accepting his suffering and offering forgiveness, Jesus broke the primary cycle of violence. The Gospels proclaim that the powers of evil, though continuing their effects today, were decisively defeated on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus launches the reign of God, which will be fully complete upon Jesus’ return. We are now offered a new path for being human by which, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we may partner with God to create new cycles of life and hope. Today’s Readings: Mt 21:1–11; Isa 50:4¬–7; Ps 22:8¬–9, 17–18, 19–20, 23–24; Phil 2:6–11; Mt 26:14 — 27:66 [27:11–54] Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.