Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
March 28, 2021
If you have ever had the opportunity to stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and look out over this vast and spectacular work of nature, you can better appreciate the challenge the Liturgy of The Word presents on Passion Sunday.
A tourist’s view of the Grand Canyon offers a totally overwhelming experience. It’s impossible to take it all in. You don’t want to miss anything, but at the same time, it’s hard to know where to look.
There’s just so much to see that even if you happen to have a qualified guide pointing out the highlights, you walk away knowing that you have missed far more than you have seen.
Just so with today’s Readings, and in particular, the two Gospels that are proclaimed as we enter into Holy Week. Even the most skilled preacher, the most learned Scripture scholar, the most saintly of persons is unable to point out more than a few significant highlights of these final days of the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth.
There is just so much here to see…and reflect on and pray about…that when our Mass is ended today…we might well “Go in Peace.” But, if we have truly opened ourselves up to the infinite mystery of The Lord’s Passion and death, we walk away feeling that we have missed far more than we have taken in.
On one occasion, I had the opportunity to leave the rim of the Grand Canyon and undertake the arduous hike down into its depths. It took time and a great deal of effort. But, at the end of a long day, when I finally took that first step back onto “the rim” and looked back over my shoulder to where I had gone…I felt a bond with this spectacular wonder of nature.
I would have missed so many details in the life of the Canyon (yes! The Grand Canyon is more than rock …it is alive!) had I simply scanned the horizon. How unsatisfying to focus only on the highlights pointed out by a guide. How unfulfilling it would have been to scan the vista, only to get back on the tour bus.
The hike left me more than a tourist. As I made my way back to the top, I carried something of the mystery of the Canyon back up with me.
If you are eager for a deeper bond with the suffering Jesus, which, in turn, will open you up to a more intimate relationship with the Risen Christ, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to “leave the rim” and move down into the depths of “The Passion of Jesus Christ according to Mark.”
Don’t allow yourself to rely on what the preacher highlights. Dare to be more than a tourist.
Plunge into The Passion…
Enter into it…
Become part of it…
And when you come up from the depths of Easter morning…and look back over your shoulder to where you have come from…you will carry something of the mystery of salvation with you.
Your own personal experience of today’s Readings will help you appreciate more fully the inseparable connection between love and suffering. Putting yourself into the story will enable you to better understand how fear fuels hatred, and how hatred ignites violence.
Standing at the foot of the Cross…shoulder to shoulder with the Blessed Mother, John, and Mary will give you a deeper appreciation for the power of forgiveness.
Should you set aside some time during the coming week to slowly and prayerfully read and reflect on this amazing story of salvation, you will begin to see wonderful things that, very possibly, you would miss if you settle for simply being present for the annual Palm Sunday proclamation of this greatest drama of human history.
Why be a tourist when you can be a disciple? Don’t walk away feeling that you have missed far more than you have seen.