April 5, 2022
I see people helping each other throughout the Passion of Jesus this Sunday. Simon helping to carry Jesus’ cross, Veronica wiping his face, the repentant thief acknowledging Jesus’ divinity, just to name a few. And most significantly I see Jesus helping those who are helping him with his enduring love for everyone. All of these examples are of people who helped but not without hardship. It could be being misunderstood, rejected, judged unfairly, spat upon, jeered at, ridiculed, kicked, tortured, and even pierced with a sword. Whatever they experienced it created great suffering and revealed an evil that needed to be faced head on. If only there is enough love, faith, and courage within to do so.
This Palm Sunday is a time for us all to imagine ourselves in the Passion narrative perhaps relating with one character or another. We may find ourselves feeling an intense suffering, a sense of helplessness, or even a fear that paralyzes our desire to intervene. Wherever we may find ourselves I wonder if we are aware that Jesus walked this most difficult road because he wants to help us. He wants to tell us that it’s ok if we can only go so far in helping him and helping others. And that if we got hurt when trying to take a stand for what is good, right, and true our sufferings are never in vain. For he knows our sufferings and wants to carry them with us on his road to redemption.
Not an easy road to travel on these days, especially during a pandemic with so much violence, suffering, and hurt still emerging. Even in the smallest of ways it seems. Just the other day I was behind a faulty barrier at a car wash that lifted even though I had not paid yet. I could have moved forward without paying, but I proceeded to do the right thing and paid while an impatient driver behind me honked because I wasn't moving forward when they thought I should. I became angry because I was being blasted while trying to do the right thing. But then I thought, "do they really understand what is going on here? ...maybe in time we will understand one another but for now I pray for the love and patience I lack."
It may seem today that the saying is true: "no good deed goes unpunished." But that ought not to keep us from doing good deeds! For this is how the indestructible seed of love conquers hate. It's the genius of our Lord's Passion! BEING the presence of love in the midst of the seemingly unforgivable. Lifting from the mud of darkness and disaster 'flowers of hope' that remind us never to become jaded or give into the evils of retaliation and despair. So long as we look to Jesus as our mentor and healer we will move forward into the sufferings of our day announcing to the world that the sweet smell of his redemption has never gone away.