Palm Sunday: Jesus’ Last Gestures

How touching: in his final hours, Jesus’ concern is not with the sin that will pin him to the cross, nor the imminent brutality, but with a last gesture of concern for his friends. Today’s gospel begins with his careful preparations for the Passover meal. His final gifts to the disciples are nurturing bread, inspiriting wine and songs of praise.

One of the most heartbreaking lines in the account of Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane is, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me” (Matthew 26:38). We know how miserably his friends failed him then, but what about ourselves in similar situations? Do we stand with the grieving, those who suffer Christ’s passion today?

As the disciples sleep, Jesus agrees to his Father’s plan, despite what it will cost him. He recognizes, as we should, that God is infinitely wiser than the limited human mind. With any of life’s most challenging passages—marriage, parenthood, a career, dying–we have no idea what we’re getting into. We grow into that awareness. During his passion, Jesus is not a child nor a slave, but a conscious adult, who agrees in love to whatever the Father asks.

This is a good week to take some quiet time and reflect on Jesus’ innocence and willingness. We could ask ourselves the unanswerable question voiced by God at the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!”

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