PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION
Mk 14:1 – 15:47
As the Church enters the holiest days of the year, She does not only commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem but also enters with Jesus into His Passion. This year St. Mark is our guide in our reflection as we ponder on the earliest and shortest account of the passion narrative. Jesus’ passion according to the account of St. Mark was an expression of ABANDONMENT.
After the arrest of Jesus, all His apostles “abandoned him and fled” (14:50.) They who had been with their Master for the past three years witnessing all the miracles, having heard all His teachings suddenly fled because of fear. Two of His most trusted apostles Peter and Judas betrayed Him.
All the players in the passion narrative: the religious leaders and the Jews all gave false testimony until “all of them condemned Him as deserving death” (14:64). Then they started to spit on Him, to blindfold Him and to strike on Him and the guards took Him over and beat Him” (v. 65). Pilate being weak gave in to the pressure of the mob and handed Him over to be flogged and be crucified. No one helped Jesus except Simon of Cyrene, a stranger who was forced to carry the cross. Being the time of the Passover when the streets of Jerusalem were filled with people, Jesus became a huge spectacle of shame carrying the cross. All those who had seen and the recipients of the miracles of Jesus, those who ate at the multiplication of loaves and fishes, those who shouted Hosanna when He entered Jerusalem few days earlier, all abandoned Him.
“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon” (15: 33). Jesus the creator of the cosmos was also abandoned by nature when the sun refused to shine in shame. The Light of the world for a time was abandoned by the light He had created.
When everyone had abandoned Him, He knew His Father will be there for Him. But when everything became total pitch black He could not see nor feel the presence of His Father then He knew that even His Father abandoned Him. In this total experience of utter abandonment, He cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani”. Preserved in its original form, it is believed to be the very exact words (ipsissima verbi) of Jesus which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (v. 34). It may sound a questioning desperation for the bystanders but the Christian readers and believers know it was the height of Jesus’ profession of faith, clinging to His Father who seemed to have abandoned Him.
This is the height of the Passion of Jesus when nothing is left of Him to hope for: His family, apostles, friends, the people, nature and His very own Father! The paradox is that the Father never abandoned His Beloved Son most especially during that moment when He needed Him the most. And yet the best that the Father could do was to let His Son experience the maximum emptiness, loneliness and abandonment there is. The Passion gives a us a glimpse of the inconsolable pain of the Father and Son who were caught up in the web of man’s slaughter of God.
The tragedy of man's sin consumed the very being of God to the point of annihilation.
Jesus, the joy of the Father, is now His inconsolable sorrow. Yet the Father's greatest pain would be the overture of His deepest joy. The Passion did not end in vain because in the great silence of the “Eternal sob” the Father accepts the sacrifice of His Son. Easter would be the divine vindication and the final justice of God in the foolishness of man.
Since then there is no pain in man that is never felt by God. Having experienced total abandonment Himself, God will never ever abandon us.
As we journey with Jesus through His passion, let us pray for that abandoning faith to our God who will never abandon us when this same God brings us to our personal Passion.