Palm Sunday and Me
“My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?”
These are the words spoken in today’s Psalm, but how many times have we felt the same way? Maybe after a difficult breakup, divorce of our parents, a failed class, death of a loved one, or even our own depression or illness?
My God, My God…
The readings don’t start here though- today they start with a party. Jesus’ followers give Him a royal entrance, laying palms at His feet and shouting, “Hosanna to our King!” They feel close to Jesus– they worship Him and adore Him. All is right in the world, everyone is happy. It is so easy to worship God when things are going our way, right? But Holy Week shows us an entire lifetime of faith over the course of one week. How do we go from “Hosanna” to the words of our Psalm today?
At His last supper, the Lord tells us that one of His followers will betray Him and another will deny Him. They’ve just welcomed Him as a King, yet tonight, everything changes. When they are challenged, the disciples respond very differently.
We can easily say that we would never be like Judas. We would never have betrayed Him. But look at our lives now… Do we obey Him always? Do we hurt others, gossip about them, lie, sin? I know I very much struggle with my obedience to Him. I, like Judas, have seen the miracles He can do and felt His love and experienced His mercy, yet I am still not always faithful in my relationship with Him.
Then there are the disciples who fell asleep when He asked them to stay awake with Him. How many times have I fallen asleep in my own spiritual life– forgetting to pray, not going to Confession regularly, or not paying attention at Mass? How many times have I failed to be loving to others?
And my favorite, Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus. I would never be like Him! Wait… How many times have I been ashamed to pray in public? How many times have I acted like my faith wasn’t that important to me? How many more times than Peter have I denied?
My God, My God…. Why have I abandoned YOU?
The readings today call us to reflect on not a nice story, but the actual account of our Lord’s suffering and death. He who “emptied Himself” for us. He who gave it all. He who never abandons us. The answer to the Psalm… My God why have you abandoned me is…. He didn’t. He doesn’t. And He won’t.
In Judas’ case, he despaired and ended up hanging himself. He didn’t ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness which God surely would have given him. Peter wept bitterly and repented. Not only did God forgive him, but He made him our first Pope! He built his church on this repentant sinner! God can and will do great things through you and me, too.
This week isn’t a week to dwell in our sin, but rather to dwell in God’s mercy. Mercy comes from the Latin word meaning “price paid”. In this year of mercy, and this most Holy Week, remember… Your price is paid. You owe nothing.
Let us open our hearts to receive His Mercy, and prepare for the Resurrection.