April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040520.cfm)
A wise man once said: Instead of asking: “Why is this happening TO me?”, Ask rather, “Why is this happening FOR me?”
In trying to make sense of the situations and to find meaning to what we are going through in life especially during hard times (like, sickness, failures, loss, crises, quarantine, lockdown) we tend to ask the question: “Why is this happening To me?” And the more we struggle with this question, the more we find ourselves down and confused. For with this question, we search not much on the meaning but more on to something to excuse or someone to blame or charge for the situation. Although hard and bad things do indeed happen To and In ourselves directly, these things could have happened and are happening FOR us, with an offer of a special purpose beyond our imaginings and comprehensions.
God’s blessings are often described as “blessings-in disguise” because only after going through the process of its trials and sufferings, we eventually come to recognize the purpose and to realize meaning of whole trying life-experiences. Only by getting through the trying and hard experience, and struggle with the questions, we learn the lessons-offered and grow in living life much better and meaningful. As the wise man advised, to be more courageous and hopeful in dealing with life-challenges and crises, ask not for excuses, charges or verdict, but search rather for purpose and meaning behind the trying-experience. In other words, as we go through life-crises, Ask not: “Why is this happening To me?” but rather, “Why is this happening For me?” that we may be more open to the purpose and meaning it offer for our growth.
During these days of Holy Week, we are being in touch once again with the story of the Lord’s passion and suffering. Along with our Lenten observances, we are reminded of the Jesus story – on how He suffered and died on the cross. However, we cannot help but also wonder why Jesus has to go through all these pains and sufferings?
On the hindsight, Jesus is sentenced for crucifixion because he was actually charged of claiming to be the Christ – the Messiah-king of the Jews. Politically, this charge is seditious and rebellious to the ruling colonial Roman Empire of his time. Religiously and culturally, this charge is blasphemously offensive to the Jews who are longing and waiting for their own expected Messiah to come and save the day. But all these things happened to Jesus, because of the envy and jealousy of those who are in power have on Jesus, since he is stirring a movement and inspiring people to change. For them, Jesus is basically a trouble-maker, bad influence, a radical leader with a cause. For allegedly claiming to be the Christ, suffering and death by crucifixion happened to Jesus.
We also cannot help but wonder why Jesus’ suffering and death happened to us. Reflecting on the Lord’s passion could definitely bring us to awareness of our own shortcomings and sins before God and others – of how much and how we have failed our Lord, as well as of how much we need God’s mercy and forgiveness and of how much the Lord’s price have made to save and redeemed us. For our failings and shortcomings before the Lord, suffering and death by crucifixion happened to the Lord.
However, over and beyond the charge of claiming to be Messiah, and our real failures and shortcomings with God, Jesus’ passion and death on the cross has a deeper value in the realization of God’s kingdom in our very lives. At the very core of the Good News Gospel of Jesus – is the constant slogan and challenge “So that You may believe”. This would mean that Jesus life and mission centers on the commission of awakening people’s faith in the Kingdom, i.e. so that we may believe in Him and His vision/mission of God’s kingdom for all.
Thus, His sufferings and death on the cross is His way of awakening and stirring up our faith in Him. It is His way of serving us (offering and giving us God’s kingdom). It is His way of speaking to the world (choosing, blessing and forming us) for God’s kingdom. It is His way of witnessing (revealing, sharing, and making us taste and see) life as lived in and with God’s kingdom. In other words, so that and for our faith in Him and God’s kingdom may direct and rule our lives always, Jesus’ life and death happened For Jesus and For us.
This is why the passion and death of Jesus for us Christian means more to us than just about our sins, failures, and misgivings, nor about the gruesome public condemnation and execution of Jesus. Our being reminded of His death can be our opportunity for us to renew our faith in our lives so that we may believe and witness into His vision and mission of God’s kingdom. For us, the Jesus story is a “blessing in disguise” – a path, a way to our life and resurrection, that we must go through in life so that we may eventually taste and see anew in faith the promise of God’s kingdom offered us again.
We began Lenten Season with a personal challenge: “Repent and Believe the Gospel”. Now as we begin Holy Week on enhanced community quarantine this year, the challenge for us as Christian faithful is to: “Believe” for there are more yet better graces to come and be revealed to us. Let us rediscover in our present situation God’s blessings in disguise by asking not why is this happening To us, but rather ask why is this happening FOR us.May we have a Blessed, Inspiring and Faithful Easter Season ahead of us. Amen.
Shared by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR