Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 13, 2014: Palm Sunday A

Have you used the following phrase, ‘Will it be worth it in the end?’ We use the phrase in all sorts of circumstances. For example, a high school graduate would ask, “Four years in college and a decade in debt--is it worth it?” A priest who is fatigued and tired from his ministry would ask himself, “Priesthood, is it worth it?” A young man who is about to ask a beautiful young lady to a date would ask himself, “Is it worth it for me to risk being rejected or being laughed at to ask her out?”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the host of the show, “Life is Worth Living,” said, “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her.” Echoing this sentiment, Victor Hugo, the author of the novel Les Miserables, was careful to preserve his purity while engaged to be married. He wrote this to his fiancee in 1820:“It is my desire to be worthy of you, that has made me so severe on myself. If I am constantly preserved from those excesses too common to my age, and which the world so readily excuses, it is not because I have not had a chance to sin; but rather it is that the thought of you constantly preserves me. Thus have I kept intact, thanks to you, the sole treasures I can offer you on the day of marriage; a pure body and a virginal heart.”
Having heard the Passion narrative just minutes ago, we may ask the question, was it worth it for Jesus to go through the rejection, cowardice of his friends, betrayal by a trusted companion, hatred of an angry mob, humiliation by strangers, cruelty of crucifixion, and finally death? At the final moment, Jesus cries out from the depths of his heart a plea to his Heavenly Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Most people probably think that Jesus was abandoned by His Father on the cross. However, he could not be abandoned by God because he was God. Sin is the only thing that can separate us from God, and so when Jesus took on the sin of the world, he became separated from God. From the Cross, Jesus still trusted in his Heavenly Father and he remembered all that St. Joseph and his Mother taught Him through the scriptures, prayers and rituals of their Jewish faith. Jesus grabbed onto that faith, trusted and called out in prayer, ' My God, My God why have you forsaken me'. (Psalm 22) In the end, Jesus’ loving and selfless act reconciled the world to His Father...and thus, it was all worth it.

For most of us when we are in the midst of suffering the pain is more bearable when we understand the purpose. Granted, most of us will not get a clear answer on why we are allowed to suffer; however, when we trust Heavenly Father, as Jesus did, we gradually begin to grasp the meaning of the pain that we undergo.

This week as we enter into our own passion, pain, and suffering we must remember to unite it with the experience of Jesus. No matter what we do to tune out our pain and suffering, we cannot avoid it. Although we have been taught to numb our suffering, to drink it away, to medicate it away, to deny it, to replace it with some other quick fix, this is not the message of the gospel.

In accepting our own suffering we are able to understand the pain of others. Jesus walks in solidarity with every person on earth who is suffering. During this coming Holy Week, can we meditate on the Passion of Our Lord and seek the meaning of our own suffering?