Mission Society of the Philippines



Mk 14: 1-5:47

THERE IS SOMETHING of a paradox in the celebration of the Palm Sunday: there is a welcoming of Jesus, and then crucifying Him later; a moment of glory, and a then a tragedy afterwards. The gospel serves as a synopsis of the whole celebration of the Holy Week. We remember the great event, the great story of our salvation in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The gospel today journeys us back to the peak or crowning moments of Jesus’ life. It is the summary or the core of the story why was Jesus sent by the Father to this world. The ultimate meaning of His coming into this world is being clearly seen in this great paschal event.

Let us try to pick up some significant things in the passion narrative. I can think of three sad things: a) betrayal; b) abandonment; and c) death.

Firstly, the gospel can be seen as a story of betrayal. We heard of Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, who betrayed Jesus. Likewise, we have Peter, the trusted disciple, who did not join Jesus in praying at Gethsemane, and who denied Him in the presence of the high priest’s maids.

Secondly, the gospel can also be viewed as a story of abandonment. Out of frustration, there were people who abandoned Jesus. Jesus did not live up to their expectations as the powerful Messiah, so, these people abandoned Him. Likewise, His loud cry, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani,” demonstrates a “seeming’ abandonment by the Father.

Thirdly, the gospel ends in crucifixion and death of Jesus. But the death of Jesus is rather seen as the fulfillment of what He lived for. It is the highest moment of God’s salvific plan for us. It is God’s greatest expression of His love for us.

I would say that the stories of betrayal, abandonment, and death are also our own stories.

On the one hand, we may have experienced these in our relationship with others. There were times that we have become victims of betrayal, abandonment, as well as death. However, in some occasions, we stood at the other side of the pole, that means, in one way or another, we have become also the ‘victimizers’ to others. We can hear stories of wives, for example, being betrayed by husbands, or husbands being betrayed by their wives. We can also hear stories of people being betrayed and abandoned by their siblings. We can also hear stories of friends being betrayed and killed by their friends. Thus, stories of betrayal, abandonment, and death are real stories. These are stories that some people would hate to talk about. These are stories which are in need of a process of forgiveness; the kind of forgiveness that Jesus gave to his tormentors.

On the other hand, these stories are also true in our relationship with God. Secularism, relativism, consumerism, atheism…. all these contribute to the betrayal, abandonment, and death of God.

How have we betrayed Him? Ignoring or disregarding the teachings of the Lord is a form of betrayal. Have we abandoned God? Secularism is an obvious form of abandonment of God. If we no longer see the meaning and importance of Sunday worship, for example, is an index of abandonment of God. How about killing God? If people believe so much in their own power and resources, and begin to think or consider themselves as ‘god”, then the true God is being killed. In that sense, God has become dead, or God is dead.

The Holy Week is a moment of grace for us. This is a moment of reflecting upon the mystery of great love of God for us, demonstrated through His suffering and death on the cross. Love is a two-way relationship. God expects us to respond to this love. For the many shortcomings we have done, we shall ask for His forgiveness and mercy. AMEN.

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