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Today is Palm Sunday, signifying Christ‘s triumphal arrival into Jerusalem. A week from now we will be celebrating His resurrection from death. That is the pivotal point for all Catholics, when we are saved from eternal damnation. And so today begins the holiest week in the Catholic Church, and the busiest. Each day provides us an opportunity to participate in the ritual leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
During Jesus life on earth this next week, Holy Week, unfolded as his own personal hell. He went from riding on a donkey, his followers waving palm branches as they honored Him, to being scourged and made to carry a wooden cross, upon which he would then be nailed, a sign over his head mocking Him as king of the Jews.
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Actor/Director Mel Gibson‘s movie shown several years ago, was the most horrific representation of Christ’s suffering from the moment He was struck repeatedly with leather straps whose tips bore lead beads, to the crown of thorns shoved mercilessly into his scalp, to the huge nails that were hammered into his hands and feet. I was unable to watch most of the film, and I tried to muffle the sounds by shoving my fingers into my ears. I hadn’t imagined how overwhelmingly gruesome the depiction would be. That is one movie I will never be able to watch again. Never.
I find it difficult to fathom the suffering human beings can endure. After today’s lengthy reading of the scriptures, Father Brian launched into his homily. The contrast was jarring. Somber words one minute, near-shouting the next. A mimimum of movement one minute, bold, sweeping ones the next. He spoke of a friend with whom he visited in Bellingham, a town bordering British Columbia. It was almost as though Father was speaking of Job, the man who couldn’t get a break from the bad stuff life was throwing his way.
Andy, Father Brian’s friend, was married, with a baby on the way. At about the time he and his wife learned of her pregnancy, he was stricken with cancer throughout his abdomen. He was going through chemotherapy treatment, which left him depleted. Advice from friends and loved ones runs the gamut from fighting the disease with all of his might, to letting go and allowing God‘s will be done. Needless to say the ordeal has Andy wafting in and out of depression. Somewhere along the line, the doctors discovered that the cancer has spread throughout his spinal column.
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Wouldn’t it be nice if Father Brian had the ability to relieve Andy of the cancer, by performing a miracle? That’s what the non-believers taunted as Christ hung on the cross. If He was truly the Son of God, then why didn’t His Father rescue Him? That, as we know, was not God’s will.
While Andy’s situation exemplifies human suffering at its worst, Father Brian drew a parallel between his life, Christ’s life, and our lives. Though our challenges may not be as great as theirs, like them we vacillate between agressively promoting that about which we are passionate, to passively accepting our fate and putting our lives into God’s hands. We are constantly seeking the right balance. In doing so Father concluded that we should not only pray for guidance, but that we should also find someone with whom we can openly share our sorrows. Both will enable us to shoulder whatever burdens we will bear throughout our lives.
a fine balance…this gift of life…hugmamma.