Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

04-10-2022Weekly Reflection©LPi

Pope St. John Paul II rightly taught, “To believe in Jesus is to accept what he says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying. It means rejecting the lure of sin, however attractive it may be, in order to set out on a difficult path of Gospel virtues.” Acceptance, rejection, suffering, betrayal, fear, reluctance, persecution, and painful, undeserved and unjust death are all played out in dramatic fashion today. Jesus spoke of God’s unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness. Who doesn’t like hearing about love, especially God’s? Jesus did not have backs turned on him, face intense suffering, and succumb to a horrific death because he spoke of God’s love. All of those things occurred because of the implications of actually believing in God’s love.

God’s love comes with an intimate and equal bond with love of neighbor. This moves the believer outward to truly see their brothers and sisters as equals and compels them to work for a world that mirrors God’s kingdom: a world based on justice, peace, mercy, and forgiveness. Sometimes, people want to keep God’s love to themselves and use it solely for their own benefit. When they only want to use God’s love to justify their own intentions and for their own projects, problems occur.

Sin makes something hurtful, destructive, and self-serving look very attractive and justifiable. The lure of sin creates friends who begin to believe the lie that the sin expounds. This is what happened on Calvary. When you begin actually doing what Jesus is saying and translate love into action, it inevitably will upset popular and longstanding conventions and structures. Many of these serve to protect status, foster personal gain and success, and further divide those who have from those who do not. Most people who hear the Gospel are attracted to what they hear, at first. When they realize that it means standing apart from popular opinion, even if that opinion is against the Gospel and sinful, they cower back in fear and join the throngs shouting, “Crucify him!” There is an ambivalence found in many believers as they struggle with whether their belief is strong enough “to set out on the difficult path of Gospel virtues.”

It takes a lot of courage to admit that the system is broken. It takes even more courage to point out the sin. And it takes an unbreakable love of God to then accept the consequences of doing so.