PALM SUNDAY 2020
It is a strange feeling to think of starting Holy Week in the current COVID19 situation. But we can also thank God that he has provided us with the ability to make sense out of the unusual situation.
Isolation is the rule we are forced to live by. This Holy Week start with meditations on how our Saviour, Jesus, was isolated and tortured. Yet Jesus showed a path different to that of the world and validated it with his life. It is the human tendency to seek human glory through personal achievements, money status and power. But Jesus is different. When his disciple cut off the ear of a policeman who came to arrest Jesus in Gethsemane, he ordered the disciple to put the sword back into its scabbard and healed the ear. Jesus is here to manifest the love of the Father in Heaven, not violence for personal glory.
The trial of Jesus in front of Pilate the Governor is not just a story of a crowd pleasing human ruler. Pilate wants the people to make a choice between Barabbas and Jesus. Barabbas literally means ‘son of the father’ – presumably Father in Heaven. Even though he bears such a beautiful name, by his choice his life shows anything but the love of the Father in Heaven. The Gospel describes him as a criminal. He is the figure of those who are initiated to be children of God through baptism, but have abandoned the Christian ways to an irreligious, self-gratifying way of living. Whereas Jesus means ‘God saves.’ And, Jesus is the figure of trust in God’s love. Jesus never looks for his personal glory. He is here to show the Glory of the Father in Heaven. When you read the narrative of Pilate’s call to choose between Barabbas and Jesus, personally you should be reflecting on whether you are a figure of God’s love or only a Christian by name and not by the way you live. Though this year you cannot come together in your parish church during this time for the penitential acts of Stations of the Cross, Sacrament of Confession, and other sacraments, make a good examination of conscience to see whether you have chosen Barabbas or Jesus in your life. Make an act of contrition like Peter, who wept over his denial of Jesus as his master. Peter remembered the words of Jesus, who commented on his life by predicting that Peter will deny him three times. You too read the Bible and let the Word of God interpret your life. Then you ask for God’s forgiveness. Then you too will be restored to the company of the Disciples of Christ, just as Peter was restored to the fold of the Apostles. Having prepared like this, Peter was able to experience the Resurrected Christ. With proper preparation, you too will be able to meet the Resurrected Christ at Easter, in spite of the doors of the church being shut.
I will be celebrating liturgies, without the participation of a congregation, during this Holy Week. But all the liturgies will be live streamed. You are invited to join them through electronic media. You can pray for spiritual Communion at those liturgies. I will be praying for my parish and for all those who are in need of prayer.