Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 2020

Holy week begins with the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. It seems a moment of triumph with a large crowd of disciples proclaiming Him and praising God. The apostle’s dreams of seeing Jesus acclaimed as Messiah and King appear about to be realized. In their minds, as He achieves this glory, they in turn will receive glory and power since they are His closest followers.

How easily things change as the week unfolds, as Christ makes His way to His passion leaving more and more behind. The large crowd with their praise fades. When Christ is arrested in the garden, the apostles, with the exception of John, run away to save their lives. He stands alone before the religious authorities, Pilate, Herod and a crowd screaming “crucify Him!” On Calvary he is stripped of His only possession, His clothing. The large crowd that acclaimed Him as He entered Jerusalem is greatly reduced to His mother, Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, John , and his mother. Jesus encounters death with the One who has always been with Him as he says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23: 46)

This is the passion of the Lord. But passion means more than suffering and death. It is a powerful desire to save and liberate His people from Satan, sin and death. It is a passion that causes Christ to empty Himself of glory, assuming “the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2: 7-8). At the moment of death, the passion of the Trinity to save humanity finds fulfillment. This is the moment of victory, as the Father, through His Son, brings the world back to Himself and life.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 2020 is radically different from anything in memory. There will not be large gatherings of people in churches who will wave palm branches. Holy Week will be quiet without any congregations in churches recalling all Christ gave His people during the Triduum, Holt Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The world is experiencing its own passion and suffering because of a virus coupled with the fear and uncertainty that it has unleashed. This passion can lead people into a kind of living that seems like dusk at best or a growing darkness at worse. Humanity no longer has a sense of control it once did. A false security created by increasing prosperity, a rising stock market, the ability to do whatever an individual wanted to do whenever he or she wanted to do it is now gone. Everything that once gave us strength, self-assurance and a radical independence has been stripped away. We have come face to face with our own passion and it is frightening.

Yet, the passion of the world is met with the Passion of Christ. The darkness and uncertainty of many are met with the words of Christ, “I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Matthew 28:20) While the passion of Calvary has been fulfilled, the passionate love, faithfulness and desire to always accompany His people still is very present among us, even if churches are closed, even if we do not hold palm branches, and even when we face the threats of a virus. In our passion, we are embraced by the Christ who will never let any of us go, who consoles us and asks us to trust in Him. The passion of the world is met, conquered, and healed by the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by His Cross and Resurrection has saved us.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM.
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

What Wondrous Love is This

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