- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

April 5, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50: 4-7; Philippians 2: 6-1; Matthew 26:14-27:66

The Suffering Servant details the outrages he endured. He was insulted,
mocked, tortured and dehumanized. Such treatment is the result of sadistic hatred the
shows itself in utter contempt of one’s fellowman. As we read the passion account, we
find evidence of contempt and mockery: Judas’ kiss, the purple robe, the crown of
thorns, the mock homage, etc. Because Jesus was a man like us, he knew mental
anguish. Because he never sinned, he was extremely sensitive to the darkness that
hardened the hearts of those who tormented him. He gave voice to the anguish of his
heart: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone God’s messengers,
how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Mat. 23:37). He also knew that through his
suffering he would overcome the power of darkness: “When I am lifted up from the
earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn. 12:32).

The Son of God became a human being and freely submitted to dehumanizing
torture so that he might make us human again. In his flesh, he bore our guilt and shame
so that we might be clothed in his righteousness. The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:
“He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our sins. The chastisement
that brought us peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds” (Is. 53:5). Jesus
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (CF. Col. 1:15). Through his passion and
death, Christ manifested the infinite compassion of God.

The Father does not love us because Jesus suffered. Rather, Jesus suffered because the Father loved us. In his humanity, he wanted to preserve his life and avoid the torture that lay
before him. Knowing himself to be the Beloved Son of God, he surrendered himself into
His Father’s hands. By his passion and death, Jesus fulfilled his Father’s salvific will for
humanity. The life and death struggle announced under the shadow of the tree in Eden
is accomplished in the shadow of the Cross on Calvary. What was lost by Adam and
Eve’s disobedience of Adam and Eve, was regained by Christ’s obedience to the will of
the Father. The Lord of Life entered into the valley of death and defeated it.

God has the power to draw life from contagion and death. Christ conquered
death by dying. In Him, we see the dawning of beauty and grace, a new creation. In
Him, we find the courage to become who we were created to be. By his self-abasement,
Jesus opened to us the path of faith. Let us allow ourselves to be led like Israel into the
desert (cf. Hos 2:14) so that we can hear the voice of the Lord and allow it to resound in
our hearts.

The story of His passion, death, and resurrection draws us into the Father’s
salvific love for the world. As we ponder Christ’s passion and death we find the courage
to embrace the challenges that confront us. “Let us adopt the attitude that Christ had.
Although he was in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God something to
be exploited for his advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing in the sight of the world
by stripping himself of His glory and taking to himself the form of a slave” (Phil. 2:5-7).

Following in the Savior’s footsteps, let us make ourselves nothing in the sight of the
world so that Christ, lifted up on the cross, may draw all humanity to himself.
Standing at the foot of the cross, we can face our mortality and find strength in
Christ’s weakness. Standing at the foot of the cross, we can face our worst fears
because Christ gives us the hope of glory. By the cross, we have been saved. By the
cross, we have been redeemed. By the cross, we have been healed. On the cross,
Christ’s arms were outstretched between heaven and earth, as the lasting sign of the
Father’s love for the world. Nailed to the cross, Christ invites us to draw near to His
sacred heart and discover the fountain of life-giving water. He who poured himself out
for love of us invites us to pour ourselves out for love of all we meet.

V. We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.
R. Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.