We are easily impressed and predictable. We easily gravitate towards power, possessions and prestige, impressed by the rich. We get caught up in the media lives of movie stars and sports heroes. We are easily awed by the powerful, influential politicians and important executives. It is human nature to be impressed by the strong, the beautiful and the famous. However, it is not fame and celebrity that gives meaning to life, but compassion and forgiveness.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people were impressed by how strong, famous and accomplished He seemed. Three years earlier, He was unknown. Now, He is the leader of the most significant peace and justice movement. He was entering the heart of the nation as a real folk hero. People hailed Him as a future king and political leader.
How surprised and shocked they were when they discovered that Jesus was a king and leader, but much different from what they expected. Jesus chose to enter the heart of our suffering. He suffered injustice, hatred, torture and murder at the hands of others. His disciples betrayed and denied Him.
Jesus is King – King of the Suffering. In His kingdom, He stands beside the poor, the outcast, those rejected by others. It is the weak, the lowly, the humble and the discouraged. Throughout His life among us, He showed constant compassion, and on the cross, He demonstrated life-giving forgiveness, a love that is the source of hope for the suffering, the sinner.
To follow Jesus is to understand and live this mystery – the mystery of the cross as a blessing. Those who chose to enter the suffering of orphans and dying found Jesus; those who chose to live with and share the suffering of the mentally challenged also found Jesus. It is in our past, our pain, our failures and suffering that we find Jesus, not by trying to escape through addictions.
The first reading proclaims that one who is rooted in God’s word can endure suffering. The Psalm in its turn presents the lament of one who is suffering, who is experiencing the apparent absence of God, yet it ends in a tremendous outpouring of faith in God expressed through faith.
We relive the passion and death of Jesus, the Suffering Servant. Jesus experienced the apparent absence of God and quoted today’s Psalm. This story fulfills the first two readings and sets up Paul’s hymn to the Philippians, which echoes the first reading and the Psalm. It is a summary of the kenosis of Jesus, the emptying out of His very being and subsequent exaltation to the right hand of His father.
Let us take time this Holy Week to take stock of our lives, our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves. Let us turn back to God by celebrating a good confession and receiving God’s forgiveness and healing.
The Eucharist is a celebration of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. It is a commitment to follow Him, to find Him, the King of suffering, in the suffering of the world, our suffering, our own sins and betrayals. There is where we will find Him and the joy and peace that He can give.
Today, we are invited to see the cross as a blessing, as a source of compassion, forgiveness and hope for all.