Sunday, March 24, 2013

this is it: blessings on your Palm Sunday



This is my closing Lenten post until Easter begins. As I mentioned before, during this Holy Week, I will be fasting from blogging, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and most all things electronic.

Also, please pray with me as I ponder over the next couple of days the significance of fasting for the opinion piece I’ll be presenting to the NYTimes for their Good Friday “Room for Debate” section.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to write for this Palm Sunday post, but after this morning, I had no doubt. I want to give you a taste of the powerful homily that our gifted pastor gave us this morning. It was a beautiful Palm Sunday liturgy at St. Mark the Evangelist.

Discussing why we commemorate the Passion of Christ, Fr. Tom Boyer emphasized,
The movies and the media and some shallow spiritualities might want to impress us with the ugliness, the suffering, the injustice, and the persecution, and that might be fine for moment or two, but you can’t stop there. The Passion of Christ is not about how Christ suffered, what happened to him, and how awful we might think it was. The Passion of Christ is about his response, not his persecution. 
For a long time before Jesus, people persecuted each other, and it has continued without a pause since Jesus himself suffered and died. People die horrible deaths. Innocent people die too, put to death by legal injection, the miscarriage of justice and the abuse of power and authority. Christ is still suffering in the poor, the abused, and victims of violence all over this earth. The tragedy is that it is all so common, and so disciples must look to the master to learn from him the response to all this because the Passion is not about suffering and persecution. It is about the response of Jesus. 
Watch and learn from the master. Despite his fear and his agony, he is focused on God and on others. He meets women who are weeping for him, and he tells them to weep for themselves. He hangs there with a criminal, and he comforts him with a promise of Paradise. No matter what happens in this Passion, it is never about him. He remains attentive and focused on God and the needs of others…   This is what we can learn from the Passion; not how Christ died, but what he still teaches us through his death about hope, about sacrifice, and about love for others.
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My prayer for you, and for me, for this holiest of weeks:

“Have mercy, Lord, on your Church,
as she brings you her supplications,
and be attentive to those who incline their hearts before you;
do not allow, we pray, those you have redeemed
by the death of your Only Begotten Son,
to be harmed by their sins or weighed down by their trials.
Through Christ our Lord.”
[Prayer over the people during Lent]

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O Sacred head, sung by Fernando Ortega

In this your bitter passion, Good Shepherd think of me.
With your most sweet compassion,
Unworthy though I be:
Beneath your cross abiding
For ever would I rest,
In your dear love confiding,
And with your presence blest.