placing ourselves in the passion story

 

 

(THIS REFLECTION WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON APRIL 14, 2014)

VATICAN CITY Preceded by young people and clergy waving tall palm branches, Pope Francis began his Holy Week liturgies by encouraging people to ask themselves which personality in the Gospel accounts of Jesus passion, death and resurrection they resemble most.”Where is my heart? Which of these people do I resemble most?” Pope Francis asked Sunday as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lords Passion.

via Pope: During Holy Week, ask which Gospel character you resemble | National Catholic Reporter.

Pope Francis was inviting us to enter into an Ignatian style of prayerful imagining. In the Passion story, who do you most identify with? For me, my heart, mind and gut are united with Mary.

My grand-daughter doesn’t like it when I call her my grand-baby. At the ripe age of 2 1/2, it insults her sense of maturity in relation to her one year old brother. I tried to explain to her that her daddy is still MY baby. “No, Grammy”, she argued. “Daddy’s not a baby!” It was useless trying to explain to her that the strapping young man who is now a wonderful husband and father will always be my baby boy.

One of the most glorious gifts of parenthood is rejoicing in all the accomplishments of our children, from first steps to graduations to careers to parenthood and beyond. One of the hardest aspects of parenthood is suffering with them through the many struggles of life. As wee babies they stole your hearts and never gave them back. Their pain became your pain, and continues to be.

I resist pondering Mary’s agony as her son was tried, tortured, humiliated and finally put to a gruesome death. It is too much to bear. This was her baby boy, now grown and trying to fulfill God’s will in his life. How did Mary find the courage to stay beside him, to remain standing even at the foot of the cross when others had fled? How does a parent survive the breaking of their own heart when they see their child suffer so?

Pope Francis, in his wisdom, knows that nudging us to enter into the gospel with our mind and heart can touch us more personally than soaring theological treatises or lengthy sermons. This is a powerful, yet simple exercise. What about you? Who do you identify with in the Passion readings?

the simple beauty of palm sunday

palm sunday 1

Today is Palm Sunday. With the early Easter this year, we are still in the midst of winter. Each wee hint of spring mocks us. The grocery stores are well stocked with tulips, but we know another snow storm or two are probably around the corner. It´s been a long and brutal winter, and spring yearnings are deeper than usual.

Stepping into church this morning, we were welcomed by the most subtle of smells. The piles of fresh, green palms awaited us. I happily took the frond that was offered to me, and immediately lifted it up to my face, breathing in the greenness with delight.

There is a simplicity and beauty in the symbolism of Palm Sunday. After the sombre purples and bare branches of Lent, the red cloths and green palms are a welcomed burst of colour. Perhaps we appreciate them more because of their simplicity. They gently nudge the senses, without over-powering them.

Simplicity surrounded Our Lord as he made his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. His ride was a donkey. Waving palm branches welcomed him – green fronds plucked from nearby trees, nothing ornate or expensive.

What followed was a journey of accusations, humiliations, denials, torture, agony and death. The Hosanna moment was quickly forgotten, and the crowds turned on him. A crown of thorns and a cross for a throne became the ultimate paradox of glory, of true kingship fulfilled.

Pope leads Palm Sunday Mass, BBC