Accepting the Father’s ‘package deal’
Alay Kapwa Sunday, Year B (Mark 14:1-15:47)
March 25, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
JESUS’ entry into Jerusalem was the first scene in the last act of his life. That was a day of glory in his life, the apex of his popularity. It could have been the prelude to his coronation as King of Israel, or at least the official recognition that he was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah. Such was the feeling of all his disciples and of the great majority of admiring crowds that welcomed him with shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
He had had his moments of glory before, while still in Galilee, when people, at the sight of the miracles he was performing, shouted, “We have never seen anything like this! God has visited His people!” But it was especially after he had miraculously fed a crowd of five thousand men with just five loaves of bread and two fish, that the popular enthusiasm exploded. They wanted him king and they shouted it loud and clear. So loud and so clear, in fact, that Jesus had to slip away in all haste and hide himself, so as to avoid the unpleasant political consequences of that excessive enthusiasm.
But while he had always avoided the crowds’ enthusiasm, Jesus enjoyed the rapturous welcome given him by the simple people of Jerusalem as he entered the Holy City, surrounded by his delirious disciples. He accepted that manifestation of love with a grateful heart. He saw their sincerity, their need for affirmation and guidance. He saw their happiness in seeing the prophecies of old fulfilled in him. He received their crown of love and glory with the same joy and condescension with which parents receive the manifestations of affection from their children.
But Jesus also knew that their enthusiasm would be short-lived. He foresaw that many of those who were acclaiming him now would fall silent and lack the courage to stand up for him in the face of the violent mob that would be mustered by his enemies, just a few days later in front of the Roman Procurator. That was going to be one of the many cases in which the majority, made up of good people, grows silent out of fear or shame, and a small minority upstages them with their raucous shouts full of hatred.
Jesus knew that such a change of scene was part of the final act in the drama of his life. It was an integral part of the fatal “Hour” when his love and obedience were to be put to the severest test. He knew that and accepted it both in principle and in practice. In fact, when the time came for him to be vilified, accused unfairly, beaten up by rascals, mercilessly scourged and crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross and jeered by his enemies, Jesus accepted all that with immense patience, humility, and love. Yes! He accepted even that with LOVE.
One could even say that he accepted those manifestations of rejection and hatred with the same love with which he had accepted the cheers of his supporters when he entered Jerusalem in triumph. He accepted with love all those terrible sufferings unfairly inflicted on him because he knew that they, too, were part of the “package deal” with which he paid the ransom due for the liberation of all human beings from their bondage to sin.
Such is the wonderful and generous love we celebrate today – a love that enjoys all manifestations of affection, loyalty, and admiration; a love that endures rejection, tortures, and even death by crucifixion with unconquered patience, humility, and a loving and forgiving heart. There is so much we can learn, so much we should learn from this.