Palm Sunday  B       –    Beyond the Veil

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week in the Christian calendar. Holy Week is ongoing; it is also about us today. The liturgical celebrations are meant to be community building events for the faith community and also deeply personal experiences for us as individual believers.  As we listen again to the story of Jesus’ last hours we realise that the redemptive value of his death is a mystery beyond normal understanding. We can understand only partially what it means.  Holy Week is not about paying off a debt to God that we incurred through original sin. The gospels offer us some points of access to help us understand the mysteries we celebrate.

On Palm Sunday we will hear Mark’s story of the Passion, and he (like Matthew and Luke) tells us that at the moment of Jesus’ death the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom – Mk 15:38. The veil was a curtain which hid from the ordinary worshipper in the Temple the ‘holy of holies’ where, in a manner too awesome for normal eyes to see, God was understood to dwell. Mark is saying that the death of Jesus destroyed the veil and revealed the true ‘holy of holies,’ the Love that is God. ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’ uttered the centurion as he stood alone facing Jesus. The veil gone, the executioner saw reality of Divine Love for the first time and maybe before anyone else. Jesus’ death on the cross gave us the wherewithal to experience what God’s love, mercy and forgiveness are really like.

The Cross is central to Holy Week. ‘Jesus’ truest identity was not disclosed in the miraculous deeds he performed before the crowds on his journey to Jerusalem. To grasp who he was, what his life was about, one had to encounter him on the Cross. There the unfathomable love of God was revealed in suffering, vulnerable and forgiving love’, writes Richard  Gaillardez.  The gospels portray Jesus’ life as a journey from Galilee to the Cross and beyond. Thomas Merton said the only journey worth taking is the cross-strewn journey toward inner authenticity. For some the cross in life is heavy, others appear to get off lightly. No one gets off completely; we all carry a cross, at least the cross of our own reality. Our crosses are connected to each other and to Christ’s. Like two robbers, humanity hung with Him on the cross on that Friday.

‘Deep in our DNA,’ writes Richard Rohr, ‘we belong to the stars, the trees and the galaxies. We belong to one another because we have the same source of love; the love that flows through the trees is the same love that flows through my being…’ Dylan Thomas expresses this interfusion of  nature and grace as only the poet can:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

  Drives my green age…

  The force that drives the water through the rock

  Drives my red blood…

 

Fr. QQ – 03/24/2021

                                                                                                       

                                                                 

 

 

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