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A reflection for Palm Sunday

Father Paul Keller, C.M.F. reflects on the readings for April 10, 2022.

Readings (Year C):

Luke 19:28 – 40
Isaiah 50:4 – 7
Psalms 22:8 – 9, 17 – 18, 19 – 20, 23 – 24
Philippians 2:6 – 11
Luke 22:14 – 23:56

Reflection: Be not afraid of the cross

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The crowds greeted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with joyful enthusiasm. A few days later some of those people were undoubtedly part of the hate-filled crowd screaming “CRUCIFY HIM!” Peter, who promised Jesus that he would never betray him, does so just hours later. How can something so wonderful take such an ugly turn? How does that happen in our world, lives, and hearts? How can it get so bad so quickly?

It isn’t easy to be a hero, or to stand alone. It isn’t easy to do what’s right when doing what’s right isn’t popular. It’s easier to go along with the crowd. When they shout, “Hosanna”, we shout “Hosanna!” When they scream, “Crucify him”, we scream “Crucify him!” The history of the Church, from Jesus to the present moment, is filled with the witness of saints and martyrs who didn’t accept the social and personal sins of their times as just “the ways things are” but instead followed the way of Jesus, even knowing it was the way of the cross. Sadly, many of us are too easily swept into the fear and hatred of the crowd, and willing to unleash our wrath on the most convenient innocent victim.

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, who came to speak a word to the weary, who did not shield his face from buffets and spitting, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, who was obedient unto death—this is our Lord, who we are to follow no matter where he leads, no matter how difficult the path.

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However, our discipleship of Christ is not a call to accept abuse, whether physical, spiritual, or psychological, nor to believe we are being Christ-like in doing so. It is a call to speak out against abuse and stand with those who are abused. This is the way of the Cross, the way of Christ. But be not afraid, for we will not be disgraced or put to shame, for God is our help, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit our power—the power of love, not violence.

Perhaps we began this Lent with a firm commitment to pray more deeply, fast more faithfully, give alms more generously. But as the weeks went by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving became less appealing than arguing with one another about who among us is the greatest. Whose country is the greatest, whose politics, whose candidate, whose policies, whose ideologies.

There is still war. There are still refugees. There is still racism. The poor we still have with us. But because Jesus’ name is above every other name, because we bend our knee before him and confess him as our Lord, we will be obedient to him. We will carry the cross that Jesus that has given us. We must never go along with the violent angry crowd. We are not abandoned or afraid. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

About the author

Father Paul Keller, C.M.F.

Father Paul Keller, C.M.F. is a Catholic priest and a Claretian Missionary. He is currently a doctoral student in theology and the philosophy of religion. Father Paul Keller’s online column, Smells like sheep, focuses on the places where pastoral ministry, public policy, theology, and ethics converge. You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @keller_cmf.

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