I believe that we find ourselves at an important moment, for ourselves, for our parish communities, for our church in Minnesota and throughout the world.
This is also an important moment for the world in which we live, our neighborhoods, our cities, our state, and our country.
We arrive at Holy Week at such a moment. The journey doesn’t begin on Palm Sunday, it began long ago, in our baptism, and when we were confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The journey continues.
The good news is that we do not walk alone, but with each other, in the midst of community, and joining together with Christians throughout the world. We walk the path that our ancestors walked and that Jesus himself trod. Yet we do not simply recreate historical events, we share in them.
We do not only remember, we believe, we see, we act.
That is what this moment, this journey of Holy Week, is all about for us. As we recall Jesus’ passage from death to new life, we embrace our own.
Jesus and his followers walked a different path than was conventional, they set out not to follow rules, but to love. They set aside labels and worked through divisions seeking common ground to bring about the common good, finding solutions that healed the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and housed the homeless. Jesus gave all that he had to such a life, and in the end, it cost him that life.
We find ourselves at a moment where individualism is viewed as more important than community, where we judge others for what they believe, who they love and interact with, and what they do for a living. We huddle in ideological corners, convinced that we and the people who are hanging out in those corners with us have the right answers. We’re so sure that we’re right, we’ve forgotten what the questions are.
Today, at this moment, the questions Jesus asks of us are quite simple, yet daunting. Are we ready to walk the path that lies ahead, to love without ceasing, to set aside divisions and seek unity, to empty ourselves, bring our pain and our grief and our fear to the cross? Jesus asks us if we see the pain that our neighbor brings to that same cross, our rich neighbor, our homeless neighbor, our Republican neighbor, our Democratic neighbor, our gay neighbor, our Muslim neighbor, our immigrant neighbor, our addicted neighbor, our abused neighbor.
All of us are carrying pain. All of us are seeking resurrection, and all of us are offered it by our Creator.
We also come to this moment, the end of Lent, and the beginning of Holy Week, as members a church that is broken. All of us are carrying the pain of scandal and the pain of betrayal, we grieve for the men and women whose lives were shattered by abuse as children and adults, abuse committed by clergy, religious and lay ministers in our church. Just as we remember Christ’s passion, we grieve for the loss of trust, for the loss of innocence, and for the loss of so much more. In the words of the old spiritual, oh, sometimes it causes us to tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble, tremble.
And yet, we are Easter people. We can get stuck in Good Friday, we can grow weary, we can lose hope. Lent continues, Good Friday is near, but Easter is coming.
Today, on this Palm Sunday, I hope we can spend some time reflecting, preparing ourselves for that journey that lies ahead. I hope we can be reminded that we are the beloved children of God, children gathered together at a shared table, whose pain is lessened by others who help us carry it.
I hope that at such a time as this, we can find solace in the promise of resurrection, and purpose in our call to discipleship. In the words of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin:
Will you join me in becoming a living sign of Christ’s loving presence so that all who are lonely or hurt, abused or abandoned, vulnerable or alienated might experience His love? Together we can do this.