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The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday - Matthew 26:14-27:66

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It is impossible to listen to the gospel account of the death of Jesus without asking many questions. Here are a few that strike me. How did Jesus feel when his closest followers abandoned him? Why didn’t he defend himself before the authorities when given the opportunity? What was it like for him to be mocked, beaten and made fun of? Why did he accept a death that was so dreadful, so humiliating and so painful? Why didn’t he fight back? Or walk away?

All these questions (and many more) directly relate to the human response of Jesus to his passion and death. Given that Jesus was also fully divine, they also have a direct connection with his divine nature. We know God by observing Jesus as human.

All the moments of his passion and death were experienced in his human nature, which is just like ours. His worries and fears, his disappointments and moments of discouragement, his pain and suffering, all these human experiences are on full display in todays’ gospel. We can sense that Jesus was spared nothing during his final moments before he died.

And he accepted all of it. He does not resist or complain during what must have been utter agony. So, we ask another question: Why this kind of ending to the life of someone who was always good and kind and loved all those he met before these final days?

I believe that we find some answer in the basic belief that he did all of this for us and for our salvation. He went through none of these horrific moments for himself. Nor for God, except that through his total giving of himself, he showed us the depth of God’s love for us. God’s love for all of us is without limit. And Jesus would allow the full force of evil and its results to show in stark clarity that he would do anything and everything for us.

The mystery and magnitude of God’s personal love for you and for me is recalled by the Church each Palm Sunday. Since many of us will be unable to hear Matthew’s account of the suffering and death of Jesus in formal liturgical gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, it would be good for all of us to take the time to slowly read this gospel (in our Bibles or online), individually or as a family, and give thanks for God’s great love as we recall Jesus giving his life for all of us, his friends, then and now.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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