Palm Sunday by Sister Mary Colleen

Palm SundaySoon after I read the reading the words “The Lord has need of it.”  This phrase captured my imagination as well as the symbolism of the donkey, which means peace (biblical),hard working and stubborn.

What did the man hear in these words to give over the donkey? Is this an act of obedience and trust? In the Rule of Benedict obedience is meant to further the spiritual good of each person and it relies on trust to foster healthy relationships.

Are we willing to stop what we are doing to pay attention to needs of each sister? Are we willing to be vulnerable with one another? What do we need to become alive in the word of God? What do we need to hear to be renewed during Holy Week?

The Lord has need of it.

Jesus says to us: You say you believe in me, but are you prepared to put your faith in me? Are you prepared to go all the way with me? It is one thing to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah for whom we have been waiting. It is quite another thing for us to put our faith in Jesus and put our lives into Jesus’ hands. But that is the question that Jesus asks of us this Palm Sunday- to be Disciples of Christ. To respond to Christ means to offer a wholehearted response to give all that we have, all that we are …over to Christ.

The Lord has need of it.

As we picture Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, we realize that this is not an image to be acknowledged only in our minds.  It’s an image that burns deep within our hearts also.  The image we confronted is an image of a man of peace.  The donkey was a symbol of peace and using that to enter Jerusalem-Jesus appeals to our hearts.

Jesus lets us know that he has not come to destroy but LOVE..Jesus does not come in strength of battle, but in the strength of love.

As I prepared my heart for this reflection….these words were branded my heart.

Christ in resurrection

Joy in trusting the wisdom of God

Hope that believes this earth can rejoice in peace and prosperity

Love that risks

Losing one’s life in order to gain it

The Lord has need of it.

In the language of religion …joy is not merely a human emotion but a spiritual experience. It is the fruit of the spirit…a grace. Joy comes from a place outside of ourselves or from so deep inside that we cannot reach it by will. This is why CS Lewis has said: “surprised by joy”.  Joy has come to us in the midst of suffering and at the end of endurance. It breaks into the prison of our misery and pain and for a moment we forget ourselves and are free.

In the words of St.Augustine “Joy is the song of our soul, a spontaneous response of the human spirit when it is able to step away beyond the confines of its ego and find itself in the presence of God.”

For the first Palm Sunday crowd, this would be their last opportunity to respond to Jesus. We know how the story ends. The responsibility lies within us to: Embrace Jesus, to walk each step, to wipe the beads of sweat and blood, to help hold up the cross, to enter the tomb in the depth of darkness, and to leap for joy in the resurrected Christ.

How do we respond to Christ as we enter into holy week this Palm Sunday?  

Mary Colleen Schwarz, OSB

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