The Passion Triumphs Not as an Emotion But as a Fact

Lectio Divina: Palm Sunday, Year C

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It is not enough to cry, one must also fight 

In listening to the bloody Passion of Christ, a warrior pronounced what is one of the strongest sentences that have ever come out of a Christian mouth. While they were reading the Passion, King Clovis was crying. Suddenly this warrior king could not take it any longer and brandishing his sword said: “If only I had had been there with my Francs!” These words of a soldier and of a violent person are the opposite of the words Christ had said to Peter, who also had grabbed the sword and cut the ear off one of those who had come to arrest Jesus. They are naïve words, words of a soldier and of a violent non-convert, but are words that have the beauty of a pure and vigorous love.

To cry over the One who has given us so much is not enough, unless our cry is like the one of the Virgin who, having accepted to be pierced by the sword of pain, was able to accept the death of her Son and us as her children, and unless it is like the cry of Peter.

Let’s fight the good battle with Christ and for Christ transforming Peter’s sword (and also Clovis’ one) into the Cross.

On the Cross, Jesus, who is the Life, has offered himself to death for love for us so that we may live forever in our Father who is in Heaven;

With the Cross, Jesus reminds us of charity, “The one who doesn’t take up his cross and doesn’t follow me, doesn’t deserves me”

Under it, Jesus falls three times so that we can get up and not be dismayed

From it, Jesus is provisionally freed by the man from Cyrene so that we can see in Him our neighbor and take the weight of the cross off him. At the same time He let Veronica dry his face so that we can learn that when we mercifully dry our neighbor’s pain, the image of the Redeemer is imprinted in us.

Crucified on the Cross, Jesus, who could not do anything anymore, did all. He signs the Covenant of mercy, frees us from sin and from death and leaves these words to be used as weapons in the battle of life; “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” “Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother” “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” “I’m thirsty” “All is done” “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”.

Remembrance of a tragedy

If I wanted to be more precise, I should call this paragraph the liturgical remembrance of the tragedy of one, who enters into Jerusalem acclaimed like a king, and a few days later exits the city as condemned to death, but who then returns alive in an eternal life. 

It is a remembrance that is also participation in the tragedy. This also happens in the Mass with the liturgy of the Word and with the Eucharistic liturgy.

Today’s liturgy offers us the narration of the Passion according to Luke. He presents it as the final phase of Jesus’ journey (Lk 9:51) that has taken him from Galilee to Jerusalem (Lk 9:31;13:32) and more precisely to the end of His life on earth and of His mission and at the same time the passage to glory, the resurrection. This road implies suffering and bearing of the cross, both of which are necessities. (Lk 17:25; 24:26). This is the road that Jesus walked first as a model for all Christians. Christ’s passion is also the last, strong contrast with evil who, while stronger at first glance (Lk 22:53), in the end will be defeated.

In the gospel according to Luke, the meaning of Christ’s death is stated with Hellenistic not Semitic features: it doesn’t insist on the atoning character of the cross, but on the victory of resurrection. It is linked not only to death, the place of the Son Jesus’ obedience to the Father (Lk 9:22; 13:33; 17:25; 22:37; 24:7,26), but also of the effusion of the Spirit. Luke tells us that with his behavior Jesus has opened a way of salvation for humanity. Moreover his passion is an invitation to conversion for all men and women (Saint Ambrose calls the gospel according to Luke, Gospel of Mercy). This Evangelist tells some details of the merciful passion of Jesus. Despite the suffering because of the cross He is carrying, Jesus is worried about the women that follow him to the Calvary (Lk 23:27-31), justifies to the Father the ones that are crucifying Him, asks forgiveness for them (Lk 23:34), and promises to the repentant thief a place with Him in heaven (Lk 23:43).

Luke presents Jesus, who gives his spirit to the Father confidant in his unfathomable design, “He commended the spirit.” Let’s contemplate Jesus’s death; he from whose chest water and blood poured out, baptism with Eucharist, the sacraments of redemption. Let’s contemplate Him taken down from the cross, in his mother’s womb, so that from the love of her pain she could pour on us all the graces. It is like a Mass. In fact from the beginning, the Church saw the anticipation of what is done in the liturgy. For the first Church “Palm Sunday” was not a thing of the past. As the Lord then had entered into the Holy City astride a donkey, in the same way the Church was seeing Him coming again and always under the humble species of bread and wine.

The Church greets the Lord in the holy Eucharistic as the one who comes today, who has come in her. At the same time she greets Him as the one who lives always, the one who comes and prepares us for his coming. Let’s go to Him like pilgrims, he comes towards us and associates us to his “ascent” toward the Cross and the Resurrection, toward the final Jerusalem that, in communion with his Body, is already growing in this world. (Benedict XVI Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II page 24)

In the Mass we conquer what separates us from Christ, we become one body with Him, new men and women in sanctity, and we hear the cry of the reminder to the truth of his peace and his love. Let’s welcome Christ in our hearts like the Virgin Mother. The consecrated Virgins are a testimony of this. They are the example of a life totally given to Christ in their love for Him, in their trust in him and in his strength.

Incense (the sign of the continuous prayer the consecrated person is called to make), the cross (the sign to be carried always to remind one self and the others of Christ’s passion) and the candle (or the lamp, the sign of devotion to Christ even when the Lord asks us to participate in his passion) are present during the Rite of Consecration.

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Roman Rite

Holy Week

Palm and Passion Sunday- Year C- March 24th, 201

Is 50:4-7; Ps 22; Phil 2:6-11; LK 22:14-23:56

Ambrosian Rite

Authentic Week

Sunday of the Palms and of the Lord’s Passion

Is 52: 13-53:12 Ps 87; Heb 12:1b-3; Jn 11:55-12:11

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Monsignor Francesco Follo is permanent observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, Paris.

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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