PART IV: MAKING CHRIST BETTER KNOWN THROUGH CHARITY
Palm or Passion Sunday, Year B
The Sufferings of Christ
If you will be asked to write your own eulogy, how will it be like? Will you focus on the good things that you have done in this world? Or will you try to sugar-coat your wrongdoings in the past to justify them? Or just like in many eulogies, will you try to even canonize yourself as if one of the Saints equal to the ranks of Mother Theresa, St. Francis of Assisi, or the great doctors of the Church like St. Thomas Aquinas and Augustine?
[Eulogy, from the Greek word “Eulogia” derivative of the words “Eu” meaning “praise” and “logia” meaning “speaking.” It is, therefore, a discourse of praise said about a person especially the deceased person.]
This [morning/evening] we hear a long discourse about the Passion of Christ and to many of us, we could say that it was a horrible death; it was sad; it was cruel for indeed it was. But if there was one thing in the entire account that I think most painful, it would be the very moment when Jesus said these very last words until he breathed his last: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” Imagine Jesus, crying out these very words out loud, helpless, in pain, and in sorrow. He was a God, His Father could have done something and yet, the plan has to be fulfilled. He has to die for us all to save us! That is the MYSTERY OF THE CROSS! The mystery that saved us all, the CROSS, which is a sign of our faith. [Does Jesus have to die?]
The main goal of St. Mark’s account of the Passion is to increase our faith and to bring us to believe in Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and the Messiah. Amidst the cruelty and unfair death, we find both the humanity and divinity of Christ who endured the pains of torture and rejection while at the same time fulfilling the divine task of salvation on his shoulders. In this account of the passion, we find meaning in our own sufferings, in spiritual healing which people of today truly needs. Healing from a depressed economy; healing from doubts and confusion with regards our faith; and healing from useless anxieties caused by man’s insensitivity. And so, when Jesus said: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” He was not actually crying for his Father to save Him. His was actually a cry of forgiveness and healing for humanity. To let go of his mortal body in order that our own bodies too may find salvation. The big question that we can therefore ask ourselves is: “If Christ endured the very sufferings of the cross which was painful, cruel and unjust, why can’t we endure our own crosses when in so doing we share in the very suffering of Christ?”
On this feast of Palm Sunday, Christians recall and mark the joyous and triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. The main message of this feast is that the acceptance of the cross is the only road to ultimate victory and happiness. It is to accept our cross even if it means a painful and sad death.
And so, if I am to make my own eulogy or ask someone to do mine, I would focus on the very day when I was the weakest. In times when I thought, there was no hope and so expose my vulnerability. I would narrate it the way St. Mark did in his account of the Passion of Christ without sugar-coating some events so as to appear venerable or blessed. I would not tell in words any sign of praise to myself. If there be any mention of praise at all, I’ll make sure that it points to the ONE who’s most deserving of all our praises, to the ONE who truly suffered that we may live. Amen.
More by this Author
To forgive or not forgive … that is the question! Jesus, after laying down values of the kingdom the past Sundays, now points to a more sensitive task of forgiveness. Could we really forgive?
Mother Teresa exemplified the life of a True Disciple of Christ by surrendering her everything at all cost that He may continue to increase while she decreases in humility.
On the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus challenges His disciples to strive to enter through the narrow gate to gain eternal life. He never says it is easy but with His help, it will be possible.