Saturday, April 08, 2017

Palm Sunday

On beasts and burdens

Matthew 21:1-11
Matthew 27:11-54

It started with a well-laid plan without a single dash of coincidence.  Jesus is fulfilling his plan to save humankind from the ultimate evil, death; much worse in this case, the killing of the Son of God.

From the first gospel, Jesus marks his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy, "‘Tell the daughter of Sion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’

Three reflections come to mind about Jesus' entrance to Jerusalem:

First, Jesus had a well-laid plan converted to action.  Saving humankind is not a coincidence.  We need to trust God in carrying out his plan of salvation.

Second, he rode an ass to actualize a prophesy.  The ass is a symbol of utility instead of power; it is capable of fulfilling the master's orders.  Jesus has a job to do, all for our sake. Let's ask what our mission is in this world and fulfill it like the obedient, useful servants.

Third, the donkey is a beast of burden meant to transport heavy loads.  In the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, it carries Jesus who is about to carry the sins of men and women.  It must be too hard for the animal to carry it.  But people around Jesus see the sight of him riding the mule.  Like the donkey, he is set to carry our heavy burdens of the sinful human race.

Let us enter into the Jerusalem of our lives together with Jesus who is there to carry them for us.

***

The Passion of the cross is the ultimate expression of Jesus' love for us, both friends and enemies.  For Jesus there are no enemies; we are all his enemies by every sin we commit; yet, he places upon himself the burden of our sins.  But Jesus remained steadfast in carrying all acts of violence heaped against him, all for our sake.

These are the burdens carried by Jesus:

First, our sins

Our sins make us more and more violent and detached from God.  Stop opting for the comfortable but insensitive life.  Our quest for enjoyment and self-preservation detaches us from the hurts and pains of people.

Second, the absence of God

Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  This prayer is for him; he meant to pray this with and for us, who in being separated from God, feel abandoned and isolated.  When we feel isolated because of what we have done against God and others, this is the heaviest burden caused by sin, God's seeming absence.  Let us also cry out this prayer and so find our way back to God.

Third, the burden of loving

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in the first reading, "For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away." The non-violence in the face of extreme violence reveals the very heart of Jesus who eternally loves us, that's why he completed his offering on the cross which now serves as the sign of our faith.  It is totally based on God's love for us that we are now called to live out to our brothers and sisters by joyfully carrying their burdens because of love.

Let us enter this Holy Week with love in our hearts and journey with Jesus in his passion, death, and resurrection.

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