It is terribly difficult to get our minds around this great and wonderful mystery of the love of Jesus for us! We’re a sinfully proud people who find it hard to “connect” at the heart-level with someone who would deliberately suffer and die for some “grub” – let alone millions of others just like him! That kind of “redemptive suffering” is a giant mystery, one we can only accept on faith and with wonder. Only the truly humble person with an open, receptive heart can start to appreciate the love that led Jesus to freely accept his cruel passion and death on our behalf.
I suspect that if we had been physically present back then at the original event which today we call “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion,” we would have joined the crowd of well-wishers. But our minds would have been thinking “political messiah” rather than “suffering servant.” So, when Good Friday followed, I am certain that we, too, would have abandoned Jesus, just like his closest friends.
Do we only pay “lip service” to imitating Jesus? Rather than a quick and casual self-conviction of “Yeah, I need to do better,” why don’t we take a lot of time this Holy Week to measure our own humility, and our own willingness to suffer for another. How much of our own “Self” gets in the way of our actions – or inactions – toward our neighbours or family members? Just how do I “serve” my family (beyond the traditional roles in which our culture assigns us)? In the second reading we are told that Jesus “emptied himself” of everything that would prevent him from humbly serving everyone who would accept his love. Perhaps, in this last week of Lent, we could hold a special “fast”–a fast from “Self”?
The meaning of Jesus’ passion is proclaimed in the four “Servant songs”; the third such song is our First Reading today. The mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection is at the centre of the Good News of the redemptive death of Jesus for all of us.