By Dan Cummings | Guest contributor
I’d like to suggest we all pay attention to three things about the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring Scripture readings of this Palm Sunday.
First, I hope when you read Luke’s account of the passion, you read what the lectionary calls the “long form.” It begins with the Last Supper at Luke 22:14. You’ll note that Jesus is no longer trying to explain what’s about to happen to Him. The apostles never got it anyway, nor would we if we were in their company. So, as my favorite New Testament scholar N.T. Wright says, when the last opportunity arrived for our Lord to convey the meaning of his imminent passion and death, He didn’t give them a theory. … He gave them a meal. Wright put it this way: “This Passover meal-with-a-difference is going to explain, more deeply than words could ever do, what his action, and passion, the next day really meant; and, more than explaining it, it will enable Jesus’ followers, from that day to this, to make it their own, to draw life and strength from it. If we want to understand, and be nourished by, what happened on Calvary, this meal is the place to start.” Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper … taking, blessing, breaking and giving … speak for themselves.
Second, pick up your Bible and read the rest of Psalm 22, all of it … beyond where the lectionary leaves it for our responses this week. It gets better, much better. I’m sure Jesus knew the whole thing by heart, even though He ran out of time to say all of it out loud before He breathed His last breath. Every one of us … occasionally, frequently or constantly … feels the anguish of being utterly forsaken by God. So did Jesus. But He, and we, know what lies beyond that anguish thanks to the Resurrection.
Third, speaking of your own personal anguish in your life right now—whatever it may be in this very moment of time—and reflecting on Jesus’ final hours, allow Thomas Merton to remind us: “No one was ever more terribly alone than Jesus among the men He had come to save. They could not understand Him, and as time went on they understood Him less and less. The Chosen People to whom He had been sent rejected Him—and they rejected Him through the priests and doctors of the Law who should have been the ones to recognize and receive Him. His apostles, who loved Him, nevertheless could not fathom His teaching and in the end ran away leaving Him to die alone.“
Dan Cummings, who recently retired as a NewsChannel 9 anchor, is a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Syracuse.