Palm Sunday-Year B
March 29, 2015
DESTINY, DIGNITY, INTEGRITY
I like how Dianne Bergant develops her reflection on Palm Sunday. Basing herself on the facts given by Scripture, the Lord, she says, knew what was coming, and was totally aware of what he was getting into by getting to Jerusalem.
As I write, the whole world of media, both mainstream and social, are abuzz with all news and a whole lot of speculations about the plane that, very clearly, was made to crash deliberately on the French Alps. That was a destiny that depended totally on the free and deliberate choice on the part of one who had sole control of the plane with more than 140 people on board. Without in any way engaging in cheap psycho-babble and psycho-analyzing the by now most talked about name in the world, the fact is, the destiny of that flight was something that totally depended on that man.
Today, Passion Sunday, we hear once again, the story of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But in the same liturgy, we hear of the story of the Passion – a destiny that he knew was coming his way, but a destiny that is far different from the story of the ill-fated flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. Jesus did not decide to go into his death. He did not select from a variety of options like one selects answers on a survey question by ticking bubbles on a sheet.
He did so “usque ad mortem” – all the way up to death, in obedience to the will of God, his Father. Now this is not mere destiny. It was not a decision taken by one who was disturbed, or by one who was pushed against the wall, or one who was left with no other choice.
He did so in obedience to God’s will!
We are entering the holiest week of the year. If it is called “holy week,” there must be reasons far higher than just because now is the week to talk about pious exhortations to be good and kind (to animals and men, for some people, in that order!). It is called holy for many reasons, of course, but one primary reason is because it hits the nerve center of what it means to be like unto Christ, who freely and voluntarily accepted his “destiny” willed by God, and accepted that his “hour had come,” and that he “would be handed over to sinners.”
He did not choose to die senselessly. He decided willingly to obey His Fathers’ will. By so doing, he chose to follow God’s will, no matter how difficult, no matter how humanly senseless, with dignity and integrity. For he was a man with a mission.
OK, so it is ‘holy week.’ The closest some people can get to making it holy is making a “retreat” for the beach, and refraining from eating Jollibee and McDonald’s but actually gorging on more expensive fares like “seafood” including the classic “bacalao” a la whatever! For many among the so called “masa” (hoi polloi), it really means getting to some church and buying ready made palm fronds (palaspas) and going to the priest to have it “sprinkled” with holy water, and then complaining about how crowded the church is, and how long the readings are.
For many of us, including me, making the week holy is engaging in pious talk and doing pious things, but the word “difficult” or “hard” to do is nowhere in the picture. Yes, I’d love to be holy, but please don’t ask me to do what is difficult or what would bring so much inconvenience to me!
People now kill each other for driving space. Everyone is in a hurry to get some place, the quickest possible time (which means a few hours just trying to traverse EDSA!). I have seen pious Mass-goers shouting at each other for edging one another out of their preferred parking slots in Church. Yes, I have seen others too, berating the hapless guards and threatening they would go to Mass elsewhere because the guards tell them not to park in certain prohibited places!
Everyone wants to be holy and go to their destination, but nobody talks about doing the hard things. Every politician I know talk about the good of their constituents (before elections) and forget about them once elected. Every one asks the people for understanding, but no one cares to understand the poor, suffering, hapless, and hopeless masses who only have the MRT for a ride each and every single day, and the trains break down exactly when they need them.
You and I are called to the same destiny, like unto Christ’s. We were created by God to be with Him forever in the next. But salvation is as much God’s task as ours. We need to cooperate. We need to do our part. Christ did his by obeying. He fulfilled his destiny, yes. But he did so with quiet dignity, and integrity.