The Cross & God's Love
Matthew 21:1–11; 26:14–27:66
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
What a heady beginning to the Passover festivities this day seemed to be for the apostles. It started out with this unexpected triumphant moment, when all their secret ambitions of glory and fame seemed to be coming true. Jesus rode into Jerusalem amidst the acclamation and praise of the people, the crowds going wild. Though the apostles had listened to the teaching of the Master about humility and the last place, the roots of ambitious excitement die hard. In fact, just listening to Jesus’ teaching wasn’t enough. Their ambitions would only die with his own death, when they would be hiding together in a dark closet somewhere, hoping to escape with their lives.
These two readings show us the span of a disciple’s life. The exciting moments of conversion or successful ministry or busy activity must lead us into at some point to a transformation that involves death. Jesus’ death on the cross meant the death of the apostles’ ambitions, as it will mean the death of our own. Something happens that turns the tables. Illness, financial disaster, ministerial failure, disappointment, complaints about our work.… In a moment the popularity of Palm Sunday evaporates, and the frightening darkness of the agony in the garden and the cloudy confusion of Golgotha creep in. In the process we find ourselves playing the parts of each of the main disciples mentioned in the reading: the one who turns traitor, the confident boaster who eventually denies Jesus, the apostles who disengage themselves from reality, the brave young disciple who accompanies Mary to the foot of the cross. One by one, in event after event of our lives, we try these disciples on for size, each time discovering new facets of our own following of the Master.
In the journey we fall and are forgiven, fall again and are forgiven again. In the journey we discover that the cross does not have the last word, and never will. We are not people of the cross, but people of the resurrection!
Jesus, in this moment of profound quiet, I ask you to come close to me, to look into my eyes, and to help me understand that no matter what has happened in my life, no matter who I’ve been in my life, I can keep on journeying with you as disciple and friend. Can you accept me in my lowest moments, when your cross weighs too heavy upon me? As ambition dies in my heart, let me learn I am loved. That’s all I need.
Let me learn I am loved. That’s all I need.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 104–106). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.