Thought for the week

This Sunday begins another great journey. We are, with Jesus, walking into ancient Jerusalem. Palm Sunday begins in great triumph – palms waving, shouting “hosannahs,” and resounding hymns.

We do this to remember the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is a triumphant occasion. But then the mood will change, dramatically.

As we read the Passion Gospel, we recall the heart-wrenching story of the betrayal, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ. The contrast with the earlier festivity is sharp. How can a story that began with such promise end with such despair? By the standards of our world, death is certainly the end, and crucifixion represented a failure.

This is one of the key lessons for Christians to absorb. The standards of our world are meaningless to Christians. We do not measure success by how much “stuff” we accumulate, how much power we have, or how important we are. Instead, our success is in loving others as God loves us. Complete love, given in reckless abandon, is the Christian measure of “success.”

By that more important standard, Jesus was a success – in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus embodied God’s perfect love for the whole world, showing us the path to follow. Jesus taught us two simple rules: love God with your whole being, and love everyone else too. In his death, Jesus showed us the costly acts – even death itself – that love can require. And in his rising to new life, Jesus showed us the boundless nature of God’s love, in which even death itself is subject to God’s power.
As we enter into the story of Jerusalem, you are invited to enter into Holy Week. You are invited to make costly sacrifices. You are invited to love one another. You are invited to experience the gladness of new life in Jesus Christ.

This Sunday, we contemplate the “mighty acts” of Jesus Christ, even his own death. This Sunday we remember that death is just the beginning of a glorious new life.

The image is from an online set of Stations of the Cross on the Diocese of Washington website.

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