Today's readings on this Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord are immensely rich and in a way function as the very foundation of our Catholic faith. If at no other time during Lent does one reflect on the tortuous Passion of Christ, the words we receive today draw us into his suffering. The readings all tie together in a beautiful and subtle way that function as the crown to the perfect example Christ leaves us in his life. In our first reading Isaiah speaks with such confidence and faith in the Lord; if only we all could truly realize and believe the words he says:
“The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
It is clear that Isaiah has made that bold leap of faith that we are called to make in a deeper and more genuine way each day. In his words he is foretelling of Christ’s passion long before Jesus was even incarnate as our human brother. We know this was the way Christ lived his life and Isaiah prophesied this truth. Now if we could only let these words of Holy Scripture take root in our hearts we would be one step closer in our journey to heaven. All the attacks on the church today call for us to be more Christ-like in offering up our persecutions and struggles as Jesus did in his passion, and Isaiah’s words are a perfect reminder of that. From the responsorial psalm today we recognize the words and remember that even Jesus himself had difficulty with fully trusting the Father at times. In our walk as Catholics we are bound to be persecuted by modern society and it is just as certain that we will experience some doubt of Gods presence and closeness to us. If we persevere through all these trials in faith a glory beyond telling awaits us.
The second reading from Phillipians tells us of this great reward. It was exactly because Jesus emptied himself to be a vessel and messenger for God that the Father gave Christ dominion over death itself. If we strive to follow Christ with a pure heart and use his example as the measure of our lives we will overcome death and enter into the heavenly inheritance promised us. We all realize there is no way of us ever attaining the heart of Christ as our own while here on earth. However through our struggles and Gods great mercy he will make up for what is lacking in us and bring us to sainthood.
This holy season of Lent can be such a great time to re-prioritize and place our lives back in the order that Jesus calls us to. As we enter Holy Week, what more perfect Gospel could we receive other than the unbelievable and saving Passion of Christ. As if today's other readings didn’t give us plenty to meditate on, this long account from Mark's Gospel is the very beating heart of our Catholic faith. While endless words could be written in reflecting on this Gospel, I just want us all to ask ourselves today how well we are following Christ's example in his Passion. The Catholic faith isn’t always the glorious or easy road to follow when measured by worldly standards, but we know without any doubt that it is how we are called to live our lives. In our families, friendships, jobs, marriages, schooling, or wherever we are in our lives, are we seeking to die to ourselves so that Christ may live more fully in our hearts? Through this holy week may we reflect on today's readings and Christ’s sorrowful passion to make room in our hearts for him to live in us as never before.