On Palm Sunday we read the passion of the Lord. It began with the crowds cheering Jesus’ presence in the world, but it immediately turned sour. Jesus is not welcome by everyone. His presence threatened some people. They were intimidated. His presence reminded them of their sins, of their incomplete nature, of the hypocrisy and of course of their lack of love.
We, as followers of Jesus, could also be kind of a threat to others. A woman came to ask me what to do with her husband. He always belittles her for going to church. He is constantly making fun of her: “They are taking advantage of you”, he says. I asked her, is he afraid of you going to church? Is it possible that he is afraid of you changing? What happens when people go to church? Their consciousness changes; they are no longer enslaved by sins, they are free. Is that what her husband is afraid of? I wonder.
The priests and the bishops of the time (the scribes, the Pharisees and the high priests), were afraid that Jesus would take their religion away from them. They were afraid that their people would no longer need them. Jesus’ teaching was radical. He was proposing a personal relationship with God. He was teaching them how anyone could do that, even if they did not go to church or did not do what the churches were asking from them. No wonder Jesus had to die.
It is hard to listen to Jesus’ journey, to his suffering, and not to wonder was it worth it? He suffered so that we can have a personal relationship with God; and now, look at us, many of us are missing the opportunity. We hardly pray and we have an “iffy” relationship with God; obviously not all of us and thank God, not all of us. But think about it: how present is Jesus in your life. Granted that there are problems and tribulations; there are times in which life is almost unbearable, but can you afford not to pray? Can you afford to distance yourself from God? No, that’s when you should pray harder; don’t fall asleep in the crucial moments, like Peter and the others. That’s the moment of being vigilant, of trusting your faith of trusting God and at the same time moving forward.
As we continue this week to read about the passion of Christ, let’s be present, let’s participate in his suffering. I’ll give you a hint: he came to suffer for us and to teach us how to suffer with him. Do not be fooled, your relationship with God has a price and it is the price of Jesus’ suffering together with your own, personal, suffering.
You may say, like Jesus, “I don’t want this chalice; I don’t want to go through this,” but at the end, say: “Your will be done”, because the troubles will come whether you like it or not, and the sufferings will become unbearable without him.
But don’t forget to rejoice and be glad for participating in his sufferings: blessed are those who suffer, and cry and are persecuted and struggle every day: blessed, because the kingdom of God is yours.
Mass every Sunday at 5:00 pm in Spanish and 6:00 pm English at St. Mary’s in Palms 3647 Watseka Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034-3914