Saturday, March 31, 2012

April 1, 2012: Palm Sunday

Do you remember the first time that you referred to Jesus as Lord? I’m not talking about merely saying the word ‘Lord,’ but actually believing that Jesus as Lord has power and authority over you, one to whom you can go to and beg for protection and favors. For me, it was more than 17 years ago as I was just returning to Christianity from atheism. Our family business experienced a tragedy that was a great crisis for our family. During an armed robbery an employee was shot and seriously injured and that resulted in significant legal problems for our business. Dense darkness and hopelessness descended on our family. Not only had we experienced a tragedy that took away our enthusiasm for our business, but also the legal issues resulted in our spiraling down in despair. We felt defenseless and powerless in this situation. That sense of hopelessness made me fall on my knees and bury my head there, and I cried out, “Lord, help us! Lord, save our family from this!” My plea was a call to the One whom I believe has the authority, control, and power over all the affairs on earth. In my powerlessness, I implored, “Lord, I am truly powerless over this situation. Lord, You know all things; reign and rule over this feeble and weak heart.” Do you remember making a prayer like that?

We have all had moments when our faith has been shaken. In the reading of the Passion, Jesus said to his disciples, “"All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed. But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee." Peter boldly replied to Jesus, "Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be." Many of us are like Peter and believe that our faith is unshakeable, that our commitment is unbreakable. However, Jesus knows us better! He said to Peter, "Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times."

When we experience tragedy, great loss, serious illness, or feelings of hopelessness, we are often left in a state of powerlessness and despair and become vulnerable and frightened of our own feebleness. Yet Jesus doesn’t say that he will remove the cross from us that weighs us down. In fact, as we heard in the Passion narrative, we will be pressed into service to carry the heavy cross with Jesus, as did Simon of Cyrene. Just as Blessed Mother was called to be a witness of hope and trust in God’s love amid suffering, we are called to be witnesses of hope and trust even when our cross is heavy. What did Jesus say to us? “After I have been raised up, I shall go before you.” So we echo Prophet Isaiah, “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”