PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD YEAR A 2020 (Matthew 21: 1- 11; R. 1: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21:8- 9, 17- 20, 23- 24; R. 2: Philippians 2: 6- 11; Gospel: Matthew 26: 14- 27, 66)
– REVD FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
…WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?
When Jesus was hanging on the tree, it seemed like God abandoned him,
Just like we can sometimes feel, in times of great crisis,
Let’s unite our pains to him, and cry out with faith to the Lord (In his own words)
My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?
A second-grade teacher began her Monday morning class by asking the little children, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” From the children came different answers, one after the other, “I would like to be a lawyer!” “…a doctor!” “…a teacher!” “…an engineer!” “…a nun! “…a priest!” The fun continued until one of the little children answered, “When I grow up, I would like to be happy, yay!!!” The teacher did not see that coming at all. It took her some seconds to process it, and she confessed that the last speaker gave the best answer.
My dearly beloved in Christ, sometimes, we focus so much on the journey that we forget the destination; we concentrate so much on the means that we forget the end. When Jesus was hanging on the Cross, some of those around mocked him that he claimed to be the Son of God, yet God could not save him. At the height of his pain, Jesus himself felt abandoned by his Father, and he repeated the words of today’s responsorial psalm, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” When he said those words, he was representing all of us in our moments of pain, in the moments we face betrayal, in our moments of abandonment, humiliation, rejection, and dejection. He was uniting himself with us in the moments we are victims of injustice, in the moments when those we help turn around to fight against us, and moments when our prayers seem unanswered. His cry was in solidarity with us. After that cry, he commended his spirit into the hands of God (cf. Luke 23:46).
His executioners thought that taking Jesus to the cross was the end of the story; they felt they had the last laugh. But when Jesus gave up his spirit, the centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (cf. Matthew 27:54). The rest of the story into Easter and beyond reveals that sometimes God saves us from troubles, but other times He saves us through the troubles. Sometimes God calms the storm; other times, God allows the storm to continue while He calms down His child. Jesus prayed that the suffering might pass him by, but God allowed the suffering to be, and He glorified Jesus through the suffering.
In case you decide to ask me, “Where was God when the corona virus found its way into our world?” or “Where is God now that we cannot gather on this Palm Sunday to sing ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’?” I will tell you that God is still where He was when His Son was hanging on the Cross.
Remember, nothing limits the power of God. Not even the sacraments. God works through the sacraments, but His power is not limited by the sacraments. Ultimately, we want to be happy but unfortunately, we tie our happiness to specific things, we believe that we can only be happy through some specific means or avenues; and so we go on to say things like, “I need to be a priest to be happy,” “I need to buy that car to be happy,” “I must marry that man/woman this year to be happy,” “I need to get that job to be happy,” “I need to make an “A” in all my courses to be happy,” “I must have a son / a daughter to be happy,” or that the world must be in a certain way for me to be happy.