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Palm Sunday: Glory flows from the obedience of selfless love

The readings for Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, are dramatic and demanding. They are excruciating in their raw depictions of violence and suffering. They also, as in the case of the great Christological hymn in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, are marked by exultation in the glory streaming forth from the pain and sacrifice of the Suffering Servant. Glory comes not from the power to suppress and enslave, but from the freely chosen obedience of selfless love.

St. Mark’s account of the Passion is terse and vivid; it is replete with unsparing descriptions of sort of sin, viciousness, and evil. “The behavior of men in the Passion account,” noted Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, “is portrayed with a realism bordering on gruesomeness. Any and all sins are committed against God himself in the person of Jesus.” And that inescapable fact, of course, is true today, for us.

The bloody drama of what happened two thousand years ago in Jerusalem is not safely stored in the basement of history, but confronts us in the course of our ordinary, daily lives. For we, too, have sinned. We also have been tempted and have failed. And we, at the foot of the Cross, are invited to admit our part in the death of Jesus Christ and to confess his name, his identity, his place in history and in our lives.

St. Mark’s account is also a marvel of literary economy and theological implication. Here I will just highlight some statements made within it, with the invitation to contemplate, for a few moments, the love, humility, suffering, and glory of the Son of God.

“Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” The woman with the alabaster jar of perfumed oil is not named, but she is remembered. More than remembered, she is redeemed. More than redeemed, she becomes, through Jesus’ declaration, a sign of redemption. Why? Because she emptied herself of all she had to express her love for—and faith in—the One who emptied himself and took the form of a slave on her behalf. She did what she could. Will I? Will you?

Read more at Catholic World Report 

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