Dying for life

by | Apr 9, 2014 | Formation, Reflections

Vincent Eucharist

Palm Sunday of Lent (A), April 13, 2014 – Mt 21, 1-11; Is 50, 4-7; Phil 2, 6-11; Mt 26, 14—27, 66

He took the form of a slave (Phil 2, 7)

Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  But he is not here to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for all.  Genuine disciples remember and live the Master’s self-giving ministry.

According to popular belief, the Messiah cannot be the Suffering Servant.  So, it is not surprising that the crowd stops acclaiming, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” given the obvious suffering of the one handed over to the authorities.

All now shout together, “Let him be crucified!” angry that the one who seemed to them to be their hope for the liberation of Israel has turned out to be an impostor.  The admiration of those who are comparable to the seed sown on the path or on rocky ground has turned into bitter and violent disappointment.  That is how they let off steam sometimes, those who are angry with themselves for thinking they allowed themselves to be fooled.  Judas is perhaps the worst of them, but then Peter’s denial and the flight of the others are lamentable too.

The religious leaders, for their part, do not feel disappointed, but rather vindicated, and happy that they have persuaded the crowd.  They are absolutely certain of their scriptural interpretations; they consider them not debatable.

They are bent on protecting their interests.  They see communists everywhere, heretics, blasphemers, enemies of national or cultural security or identity.  They are obsessed with imposing a multitude of precepts, but neglecting the weightier part of the law (cf EG 35).  To attain their goals, they see to it that the just one whom they find obnoxious is subjected to revilement and torture, like a criminal, and condemned to death.  They search Scriptures, yet they reject Jesus to whom Scriptures testify.  What happens to the seed sown among thorns happens to them:  they get choked by their obsessions.

The clean of heart, in contrast, the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and the persecuted and falsely accused, do not harbor ambitions.  That is why they see God and have a sharp vision.  In consideration of their simplicity and their low condition, the Father reveals to them what he hides from the learned, and so, the true religion, as St. Vincent de Paul says, is found among these simple people who carry their daily crosses with lively faith and in silence (Coste XI 200-201; XII 171).

Given their precarious situation, there is no thinking of seats of honor; they only hunger and thirst for justice, mercy and peace.  And they fight for them, bearing the cross and not the sword.  Sleepless, they cry out of the depths to the Lord in repentance and hope.  Since they know by experience what it is to feel abandoned, they also know to commend their spirit into the hands of the Father.  Overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death and agonizing often, they understand the resurrection better than anyone else and long for it more.

And they are enamored, understandably, with the Eucharist, the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice and pledge of the fresh bread and the new wine in the Father’s kingdom.

Ross Reyes Dizon