Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday 2013

In part of Psalm 22, verse 27, not used in the liturgy's Responsorial Psalm, there are words that I have found helpful as we enter the serious days of the Lenten Season.

Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
May you be of good cheer forever.

Throughout the days of Lent in this Blogger's postings, you have read many times that the days of the journey we have shared together would be an opportunity.  These 40 days offer each of us the time to discover Jesus as friend, close, personal friend.  We have encountered this young preacher in a variety of circumstances.  From the earlier days of this journey we are encouraged to recognize once again that Jesus is indeed no ordinary man.  The Transfiguration presented Jesus with two extraordinary biblical persons, Elijah and Moses.  We read words that God that Father spoke to those with Jesus on that hilltop.  "This is my beloved Son...."  

If Jesus was willing to invite Peter, James and John to be with him for that event, don't you think that there are many moments in your life, if seriously considered, that are signs to you that he wants you to know how much he loves each of us.  They are signs to us that he is always with us.  Now during the days of these next two weeks, we have the opportunity to walk with him.  Moments when we can look directly into his face be it the frightened Jesus in the Garden of Olives, be it the frustrated Jesus when one of his own betrays him, be it the calm Jesus who faces Pilate and the crowd, be it the disappointed Jesus who knows Peter would deny he knew him, be it the face that a woman tries to wipe clean in the bloody climb to Calvary's summit, be it the tortured face seen by all those along the way, be it the encouraging face that promises life in the kingdom of God to the Good Thief and, finally, the pathetic face that utters "Father ..." in different ways from his deathbed, the cross.

Yes, these were the moments of the man you had the opportunity to befriend in a deeper way these past days of Lent.  Now that we enter the culmination of Jesus' effort to carry out the will of his Father, we have the opportunity again of walking the final days with our friend.  If he indeed is my friend, these days will have special significance.  We will be wanting: to walk the way with him; to take time to talk with him; to find the time to thank him for so much that he has given to each of us.  How much has he given to you?  How much has he given to your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues?  Do not these gifts from him strengthen your relationship with him as friend.  "My friend did all of this. My friend has reached out to so many.  Have I?

As we walk that final two weeks with our friend, consider the extraordinary blessings he has given to you.  It is your friend and my friend who reaches out to the poor when you cannot.  He is your friend who takes into his embrace all the men and women and children who may be forced into a marginalized part of society because you, or we, cannot deal with "them" whoever "they" may be: the immigrant, the AIDS victim, the unemployed, the imprisoned, the gay man or women, the brown skinned individuals, the black be they recent arrivals from Africa or distant relatives of those other black  persons in our communities.  Finally, it is your friend who reaches out to me and you when temptations clutter our minds, when sin is more satisfying than sacrifice, when selfishness and pride diminish our goodness, when honesty is sacrificed on the altar of pride.

Yes, this is your friend, my friend, whose extraordinary journey begins today.  Can you walk with him, thinking of him not as Jesus the victim, but rather as Jesus my friend who does not refuse to fulfill the Father's will;  Jesus my friend who walks to the moment of our salvation?

May you be of good cheer forever!
Seek to walk with Jesus during these last two weeks of Lent!