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A Life-Giving Death

by Krista Peterson | March 29, 2012

Scripture Reflection for Palm Sunday (April 1, 2012)

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1-15:47 or 15:1-39

In my youth, I did not understand how the death of someone could bring life for others. I remember sitting in church, hearing that we should feel full of gratitude and thanks giving because this man died for our sins. I understood that this man loved me no matter what I did, but I didn't get to see or touch or talk to him, and now, well...he was gone. A great man was dead and what are we to do with this? It seemed that a celebration was the last of what we should be doing, out of respect for those that knew him well enough to be sad.

Palm Sunday is about the suffering of Jesus Christ, but now I see that I only understood part of the story. Who we are on earth is only a part of who we were intended to be, and the greater lies beyond us. This one death happened in glory and honor because of Jesus' depth of pain and humiliation at the hands of those that accused him of the truth. This one event has forever saved every heart and spirit on earth. The crux of this, however, is that this salvation is an offer, not an obligation. Love can only ever be an invitation, and our Father has granted us a lifetime's worth for consideration. The forty days of lent serve as our reminder that faith is a call to action, a time to fast and pray and think over where we are and who we are serving. To see the darkness of Lent as an end in itself is neglecting the greater story. The season of Lent is a time of death, but a death to ourselves and to our Father for all of those things that have allowed us to build walls where love should go.

There are many ways to do this, and several are mentioned in today's readings.

In today's Gospel reading, the words are honest; “All of you will have your faith shaken,” as Jesus speaks to His disciples. Is that not true of any faithful person? It is not a thought, but a fact, and it is meant to show the reality of life with the Holy Trinity. The crowd, thirsting for blood, has neglected their humanity: “They shouted again, 'Crucify him.' Pilate said to them, 'Why? What evil has he done?' They only shouted the louder, 'Crucify him.'” This is an example of the agony that Jesus must suffer on His last day on earth. This is only part of the psychological torment, as he is betrayed also by Judas and Peter. Lent can be difficult, especially when we are asked to face up to a large challenge. Sometimes it can seem like the odds are stacked against us, that we need a miracle to get us to wherever it is we need to be. Or the yearning of Jesus himself: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Where then, in these places, is love? It is in this that we must remember that Jesus is without sin and has treated the crippled, poor and broken with great love. Feeling the absence of God is challenging, especially during Lent. Being present to moments of great love reminds us that the Holy Spirit is everywhere.

Often, the greatest prayers are the most simple. Pray, as Jesus did: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will." This is the lesson of Palm Sunday: to let go of what we cannot control, to forgive ourselves our humanity, to allow God to rule our heart with strength of love. I pray that you will find sweet, true life in the dying of Christ Jesus.


Image: Entry of Christ into Jerusalem - by Leullier © 2010 Free Christ Images

Author information Krista Peterson

Krista is a 2011 Catholics on Call alumna and currently a student at DePaul University studying Human-Computer Interaction. She has been Catholics on Call Regional Coordinator since March 2012.

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