By Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S.
In the opening Gospel at the beginning of Mass today,
the crowds cry out, “Hosanna!”
In the reading of the Passion,
they cry out “Crucify him!”
The disciples join with the crowds on Palm Sunday
as he arrives in Jerusalem.
At the Last Supper they all deny that they would ever deny him.
In the garden, he asked them to pray with him,
but instead they had all fallen asleep.
And by Good Friday afternoon,
one has betrayed him,
one denied him,
and none has come to his defense.
All have gone into hiding,
more interested in preserving their own lives
than protecting the life of the one they had just proclaimed as Master.
He had been forsaken, abandoned by the crowds
and even by his own disciples.
And as he hung upon the cross,
naked and alone,
tormented in body and in spirit,
it is no wonder that the words of Psalm 22 came back to him.
Eloi, Elio, lema sabachtani?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
In his pain,
it seemed as if God had also abandoned him.
I suspect that all of us have at times felt betrayed,
left alone without anyone to care for us.
It is then, that we need to look to the cross,
or as St. Gaspar would tell us,
to read the book of the cross.
For if we look upon the cross
we will see the one who was abandoned and forsaken by everyone
For if God had indeed abandoned him,
there would have been no empty tomb,
the body would have remained where it was buried,
we would not be but a week away from celebrating his resurrection.
The disciples did not return to him;
he returned to them.
The crowds that call out “Hosannah” today
are vastly larger than the crowds that did so
on that first Palm Sunday.
And the cross that on that first Good Friday
looked like a sure sign of defeat
has become the sure sign of victory for us.
Throughout this pandemic,
it is the fact that our God has experienced isolation,
that gives us hope.
May this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
continue to give hope to us
when we feel forsaken,
for we know that the story does not end on the cross
or in the grave,
but in the empty tomb,
in the upper room with the Risen One,
on our roads of frustration,
and along the seashores where
a breakfast has been prepared for us.
the story doesn’t end with the story of the Passion,
it ends after we have eaten his body
and drank his blood,
after we have been blessed and sent forth
to proclaim the Good News
by all we say and do.
This week is Holy Week,
not because we have made it holy,
but because we have been made holy
by the one who seemed forsaken,
but was never abandoned.
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S., is the director of advanced formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He also directs Precious Blood Parish Missions.