6. Apr, 2017

Palm Sunday Reflections

Jesus’ death and resurrection has changed the course of history. Importantly for us, Jesus' surrender to God in the moments of his death has transformed the meaning of suffering. Through his offering Jesus has restored our life. Now the holy Cross is packed with meaning and value for each of us because suffering is now redemptive - if we are open to the mystery of Christ.  

So many people of faith misunderstand the meaning of suffering. They can be angry with God because they have the idea that if we believe in God, God will protect us from suffering. So, when the inevitable happens and suffering descends, the questions arise, “Is God angry with me?”, “Does God not care about me?”, “Is God testing me?”, or “Does God really exist?” And all because we think that God’s primary role is to ensure that we don’t have to experience suffering!

Yet, we saw last week how God relates to suffering. Jesus does not prevent the death of Lazarus. Instead, he transforms that experience—of suffering and death—into being the place where life and God are found. Like Lazarus, even amidst the most horrendous suffering, Jesus will call us to come forth to receive every grace, ending in eternal life!

The Saints understood this well, meditating on Jesus passion to help them understand God’s love! Let’s not only look to their example, but also understand how they understood suffering and its value, reflecting on their wisdom:

  • Mount Calvary is the academy of love. - St. Francis de Sales
  • Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart. – Saint Rose of Lima
  • Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. – Saint Rose of Lima

– from the writings of Saint Rose of Lima

Our Lord and Saviour lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: Let all people know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”

When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.” “If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his Cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men.” 

Picture retrieved from https://www.wikiart.org/en/jan-provoost/crucifixion-1