Reflection from Fr. James Barber
This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we would be gathered together in an unusual way. Palms in hand we would recall the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and, together, singing hymns of homage, enter into the church and read the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. This year, however, we must welcome him as he enters the gates of our hearts, and sing hymns of our quiet love for him in our homes.
Today is always a powerful day, when the reality of Jesus’ suffering and death come crashing into our lives. No more can we cling to anything romantic or idealistic about who Jesus is and what he comes to achieve, we are faced with the bare reality of Jesus Christ, our loving Saviour, crucified. But perhaps our separation from one another can help us reflect in a new way on these events. Perhaps our separation from one another can help us understand more deeply the loneliness Jesus felt on the cross, perhaps the fear we might be experiencing can help us reflect on Jesus’ own fears as he was surrounded by his enemies and abandoned by his friends.
But when we reflect on the harsh reality of Jesus’ Passion, on his being stripped, on his flogging, on his humiliation, on his death on the cross, let us not lose sight of his conquest over those very things. Let us remember that when Jesus came before the Father in prayer, so fearful as to sweat blood, he expressed his fear, he laid himself bare before the Father in all humility and honesty, but that he had courage in the face of that fear. And through him, with the grace he pours into our hearts, we receive the same courage to overcome our fears, even when they seem to dominate. Let us not lose sight of his conquest over our own humiliation, over our weaknesses, over our fears.
So let us read the Passion according to Matthew today and reflect upon it with deep love and courage. Let the victory procession we would be having today with palms held high take place in our hearts, for today he comes with victory over our struggles and fears, and comes with mercy in his hand.