A reflection inspired by a homily by St. Pope John Paul II
The liturgy of Palm Sunday is a kind of solemn entrance into Holy Week. Yet Holy Week itself is an entry into something greater. Palm Sunday combines a welcoming of Jesus and a welcoming of Jesus into our most sacred place. This is a place more our own than Jerusalem. Jesus came to the so-called “city of peace” and was welcomed by a great crowd. In a certain way this city can symbolize the human race and its ambivalent reaction to the coming of Christ.
Today we want to belong to the crowd of welcomers. But if we welcome Jesus as our Lord then we must remember that he is Lord of truth, freedom, justice and love. We welcome him precisely as Lord insofar as we also welcome these realities with faith and joy, not just outside but inside ourselves. If we know what we are doing, we realize we are being called to work with Jesus, and one another, to build peace and justice and truth and love. That begins with our opening of ourselves to Jesus’ coming, and involves committing ourselves to work with him to build these realities within ourselves. This, at least, is the first step. But all are not ready to do this. So we have to be ready also to accompany Jesus to the cross. Who can guide us as we too climb the hill of Calvary with our Divine and Human Teacher? There is no better guide than Mary. What she teaches is part of the gift we receive when in accepting her as our spiritual Mother.
St. John has to open his home; we have to open ourselves, our most sacred inner place. We start by welcoming her but that will lead us to welcome others. Will we respond as generously as Mary to the Lord’s call? Will we persevere with joy and fidelity in the mission to others that this implies? Will we let Mary teach us this? O Mary, give us your eyes so that on the face of the crucified Jesus we may recognize that of the Risen One, the one who fears nothing when doing what the Heavenly Father has called him to be and do.
The first lesson is that of standing at the cross and joining Jesus’ love and forgiveness. The second lesson is that of opening our heart to all those who need love and forgiveness. This is our path into Holy Week and it is the path of our entire life as we come from Holy Week into the rest of our lives.