Grace to you!
We come to the last week of our journey through Lent. It is called Holy Week. It is the holiest week in our Christian tradition.
Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We remember when people trooped in large numbers, holding palms in their hands welcoming Jesus to the city, singing “Hosanna, Hosanna, the son of David” (cf. Matthew 21:9; Luke 19:37-39). This last public event of Jesus before his arrest was about the only time the Lord did not stop people from confessing his glory publicly. It speaks to us about many other things.
First, it shows how transitory is earthly glory.No sooner had the crowd praised the Lord than they turned against him. Their minds were fixed on materialistic, temporal benefits; and when Jesus showed his kingdom was not of this world, they would no longer accept him. The glory of this world isn’t lasting. Those who want to journey with the Lord must realize this reality. Try as we may, we cannot immortalize our name on earthly things alone. A day will come. A time will arise when the true value will be determined, when we would know that our spiritual qualities triumph over earthly glories.
Second, in our spiritual life, we learn the lesson of glory-triad—from glory to the cross and back to glory. The movement from temporal glory minus temporal cross is the movement bereft of ultimate sustainability. We shouldn’t be afraid of immersion into the discomforts and sometimes pains of the cross because, try as we may, we cannot run away from the cross. If we embrace the cross, make it our friend, we discover and receive the blessings flowing from it. There is life, spiritual strength, from the crossed woods.
Third, we learn from Christ the value of obedience.The prophecy of Isaiah 50:4-7 describes how the Messiah listens and heeds the plan of God. Philippians 2:6-11 situates Christ’s disposition in humble obedience—a tough value for our contemporary world. Nonetheless, it’s in obedience to God’s Will that true victory of the human will is assured. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” is always the best witness of the obedience of faith. Obedience always, and I mean always, comes with enduring glory.
Fourth, tied to obedience is freedom, the choice for God’s Will. Our will sometimes can be strong. In fact, it’s a good quality to be firm in our decisions. It is strength of character. Strength of character is a testimony of strong willpower. We often admire people with strong willpower because they bring out the best in human ingenuity. They’re bold. They’re daring. Many times, they’re people of integrity.
Our will would lead to glory if it syncs with God’s Will for us. This is not a rejection of freedom. Not by any means. Instead, we see in our will the true purity to pierce the best alternatives and see things in the purity of divinity. When the human will is open to the Will of God, it makes choices that flow from its very source. Such choices are pure and full of blessings.
The choices we make reflect the values we hold dear. Our choices for clothes, homes, cars, colours, etc., reflect our personality. We gravitate towards those. In the will is something which speaks in the gentlest way—calling us back to God’s Will. Do we listen? Do we choose it? Do we allow it to grow into maturity of choices? We learn from Jesus how to choose the Will of God even when it entails the cross.
Nobody forced Jesus to death. He himself told us, “Nobody can take my life. I lay it down on my own accord” (John 10:18). The choice to offer all, including our life to God, is the purest of the choices to be made, for the will is in its purest form if it can submit itself to the reign of God. It isn’t a tautology to say the toughest choice to make in life is to submit our will to something other than what is convenient. The highest and purest of it all is to surrender our will to God’s Will. In this choice is glory. It’s us being fully alive.
As we begin the Holy Week today, let our main project be how to surrender our will to the Will of God so that what pleases God will be what pleases us too. By so doing, we become intentional and full participants in the Paschal Mystery (that is the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).
Pray with me: Lord, give me the grace to see in Your Will, my will too. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[Palm Sunday; Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Lk 22:14-23:56]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .