Although Palm Sunday’s ability to confront and confound our indifference can be startling and even frightening, the real grace of this celebration is in the opportunity it provides for us to renew our commitment to life in Christ. More than being some sort of extended passion play, the days of Holy Week challenge us to envision a life in which we take responsibility for our sins.
In many ways, both large and small, we choose sin over God’s love. We fall prey to the false promises of love, pleasure, and inner peace that sin offers us. And in the process, we lose touch with our heavenly Father who is the source of all love. However, that does not need to be the end of the story. We can always turn to Jesus to find forgiveness.
So many times when we read the all-too familiar story of the Prodigal Son, we focus on the action of the rebellious son — and rightly so because it is so easy to identify with him. We can lose sight of the character of the father. The poignancy of the son’s story is so only because of the magnanimity of the father.
As we approach the final weeks of Lent, let’s repent and start anew so we can be a light in our world, on fire with the love of Christ. Let’s make use of extra confession times, Lenten missions or talks, extra holy hours, and times set aside for prayer.
This Lenten journey — and our Christian life — is both a juxtaposition and a symbiotic relationship between glory and sacrifice. We feel the strain and pull at our normal life through the out-of-the-ordinary sacrifice. Yet through our gifts and self-denial, we brush something extraordinary.
God’s merciful love is real. And the Church, for all of its flaws, is far greater than the human beings who labor in its vineyard. The response to our psalm cannot be more apropos: “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.” We are in trouble, and God is with us.
As we look toward the season of Lent, our Gospel this Sunday invites us to look at our lives with clear eyes and to reflect on the fruit of our lives. Are there “branches” that need to be pruned, so that other areas of our lives — including our prayer and ministry — can be more fruitful?
It is easy to lose hope in the face of societal violence. There are people all around us who are hurting. Perhaps if we were quicker to show them mercy, they would be less likely to lash out. Who knows how many atrocities have been averted simply by someone taking the time to listen to a neighbor?
The Gospel tells the story of how the Apostles fished all night but caught nothing. Jesus tells them to cast their nets again. By trusting Jesus, they received an enormous catch. We are all called to trust Jesus and receive all his goodness.
Whether we’re activists, doctors, carpenters, or stay-at-home parents, the power of the Gospel of love can and must shine out through our daily lives. And if we are fighting for justice in this world, then the words of Paul are for us as well. Without love, we become a “clanging gong” or “clashing symbol.” Without love, our witness and works will “be brought to nothing.”