In our first reading from Isaiah, the prophet says: “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” On this Passion Sunday, will a word about the death of another innocent man be enough to rouse a weary people, a people worn down by violence and division and anxiety about the future?
The founder of the Passionists, St. Paul of the Cross, would say “Yes!” To tell the people they need look no further than the Cross to know, without a doubt, God’s love for them is a way to rouse them from despair! Looking at the Cross, we can know that God is with us in our pain. Looking at the Cross we can realize how far God is willing to go to save us. Hearing Jesus say, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” shows us that even those of us who have felt forsaken by God, have a Savior who understands. And if we take Jesus’ words as a quote from Psalm 22, Jesus also shows us how, even in the midst of feeling abandoned, even in the midst of dying, to cling to trust in the Father.
We need not run away from the Cross. We need not be like the young man in the Gospel, who, out of fear, literally runs out of his clothes! We need not be afraid, like Peter was, to admit we know Jesus. Rather than run away, we can run toward the Cross, and be embraced by a loving Lord with outstretched arms, taking all of our human experience, and redeeming it.
The people in Jerusalem sang Hosannas to Jesus when He entered the city, but later turned on Him, demanding that He be crucified. May we instead look to the Cross, and sing Hosannas to Him now, knowing His love for us beyond all telling. Roused from our despair, may we share the love and reconciliation of Christ from the Cross, and, like Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, pass it on to the following generations.
In Christ Crucified,
Fr. Phil, CP