Remembering, Reconnecting, Responding

April 2, 2023 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

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On this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we blessed our palms to remind us of Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem, only to be handed over to death. He was arrested, tortured, abused and humiliated, carried his own cross to Calvary, crucified while onlookers waited for him to die hanging on that cross. The palms that symbolized Jesus, revered to be king, but riding on a donkey, culminated in that shameful and painful death on the cross.

Thus, as we enter the Holy Week and being reminded fn the story of the suffering and death of Jesus, there are three invitations that I would like to share with you today. These three invitations will hopefully guide us in our journey in life with Jesus.

First, REMEMBERING. To remember a painful memory is not easy. When we do this even with our painful memories in the past, of the trauma, shame and guilt that happened to us, we feel discomfort. Some may even try to escape to forget that painful memory. Yet, this is what we do now as we remember, recall and recover the story of Jesus who after preaching to the people the Kingdom of God and making difference into lives of the distressed, the sick, the lonely, the sinners and abandoned, was being betrayed by his own disciple, denied by a friend, and left alone on the cross.

In our remembering, we honor the pain, the shame and the guilt that surround in the story of Jesus as well as in our own stories. As Jesus struggled to find meaning in his suffering as expressed in his words, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” let us also find meaning and God’s presence in our own painful and shameful stories.

Despite the pain and the seemingly absentee-God as we face our own suffering as individuals and as a people, let us also allow the Spirit to bring us further in this journey. This is the second invitation.

The second is RECONNECTING. In remembering the passion and death of Jesus it also allows us to remember our own stories, we may realize how far we gone away from our painful past. In our attempt to forget, cover and bury what was shameful and filled with guilt, we could have pretend as if nothing was wrong or nothing happened.

We let the words of Prophet Isaiah be our prayer, “Morning after morning, he opens my ear that I may hear,” so that we may be able to listen well to the voice of God speaking within us and through our human experiences. As we reconnect with the past, we also reconnect with our emotions that may still be overwhelming for us. We reconnect with ourselves and find our re-connection with God who has been with us all along even in our darkest moments in life.

Photo from JerryTreñasOfficial Facebook

In reconnecting, we bring our heart and mind into prayer, into contemplation even when we are faced with difficult life experiences and situations that may be challenging to comprehend. In prayer and contemplation, we give ourselves to God just as Jesus gave up his spirit to the Father. This is where we are called to grow in our confidence and faith in the Lord who promised to be with us always and who shall never ever leave our side. And this confidence brings us into the third invitation.

The third is RESPONDING. Jesus even at his death proved that God’s power of love and mercy outdone human sin and death. Even in death, Jesus responded to bring life and freedom. The Gospel described that “the veil in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn into two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” This was how the death of Jesus made the heaven opened for all and brought hope to the dead.

Hence, as we remember and reconnect, let our heart be filled with God’s presence to empower us by finding healing and freedom, life and renewal. This only means that we won’t allow any painful or shameful memory to dampen our spirit into hiding and pretensions. Do not settle to seek temporary comforts but rather go beyond and seek the Lord. The Lord desires our reconciliation and healing and so let us embrace that grace offered by the Lord to us, as Jesus gave up his spirit for us.

To respond then, is to be able to get out beyond ourselves and become life-giving, spirit-inspiring and heart-renewing. Kabay pa.

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