The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
April 10th, 2022 – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - Luke 22:14 – 23:56
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We now enter the holiest week of the year. And placed at the center of that week is our remembering the death of Jesus. And not just any kind of death, but one involving great suffering for him, a suffering, as it is told, that he in no way deserved. Yet his death is not described in the gospel account as a mistake or as an unfortune twist of fate. Rather, it all happened according to God’s will. As something willed by God. And good. The actual day of his death we call Good Friday.
In prayer, Jesus struggles with all that he imagined would be involved in his impending death on a cross. He also thought about the deep suffering that preceded it. He was reacting to this as a human being, much like all of us would have felt. If there was another way to die, a less difficult and painful one, he asked God that if that were possible. Some other way that did not involve the denial by one of his closest friends, the rejection of the crowd, the torture of soldiers or the extremely painful and humiliating death on a cross – the Roman preferred way of capital punishment.
The death of Christ will always remain a mystery to all. What we do know, according to today’s gospel, is that he came to live among us “as one who serves.” So, his suffering and death would be an expression of his total service, done for us and our salvation.
Jesus was and remains dedicated to our best interests in God’s eyes. Through his example of how he lived and died, he showed us that life is not always easy. There will be times when God invites us to do difficult, even painfully hard things. It was that way for Jesus. It can also be for us.
Most all of us have experienced rejection, hardship, difficult challenges, moments of pain, suffering and loss. To explain all these difficulties as mistakes, evil or unnecessary may not be appropriate. They may well be part of God’s intent for us.
Like Jesus in his garden prayer, we do well to bring our burdens to God in prayer. Ask for wisdom to judge which difficulties should be accepted and which should not. And also ask God for the strength of spirit to face all of what comes our way. Both moments of pleasure and those causing pain.
©David M. Thomas, PhD