Pondering for Sunday, April 10, 2022

Eucharistic Readings for Palm Sunday: Year C

Isaiah 50:4 to 9a: Psalm 31:9 to 16; Philippians 2:5 to 11; Luke 22:14 to 23:56:

 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31- 32)

This reading begins with joy!  It begins with the ride into Jerusalem with waving palms and palms laid before even the donkey that carries Jesus. But during the week, the celebration goes south quickly and some of the same people singing “Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord,” are within a few days, yelling, “Crucify him.”

There is so much to ponder in this Passion Reading.  I think in all the readings for any of the Gospel Passion readings, Peter is the significant representative of us all.  He wants to be faithful, but fails. We want to be faithful but we too so often fail.  Jesus never gives up on Simon Peter and Jesus never gives up on us.

Satan, or at least sin, is at work against Simon Peter and us as well to reduce us down to manageable fragments in an effort to pull us away from following the love of Jesus. But we have the prayers of Jesus himself, keeping the faith within us, to keep us strong. Jesus says in our Passion passage, “but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail.” Jesus has proclaimed throughout the Gospel that it is the faith within us that enables us to overcome the sinful obstacles in life.

Luke’s Gospel account of the Passion is the only one that has Jesus to make eye contact with Peter as the rooster crows – as Jesus is being taken away. This is a painful reminder that Jesus told him it would be so. It is also a painful reminder when we too make eye contact with Jesus and are found falling short of what we should be.  However, Jesus also lets Peter know that he will, at some point, turn back, and that we too, will at some point, turn back, and when we do, we, like Peter, are to strengthen our brothers and sisters in their faith.

I sometimes wonder as we look into the eyes of President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, as his country is bombarded with devastating bombs, whether we might feel ashamed for not doing more to help the Ukrainian people. But I believe that we also, will turn at some point, come to his aid as it is right so to do.  And when we turn, we too, will strengthen the countries in the region in their resolve to have, and maintain freedom.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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