Reflections on the Readings
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion - April 13, 2014 - Year A
A Meditation on the Mystery of Christ and
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. - Philippians 2:6-9
The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Not once did the Master say, "What's in it for me?" For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might be made rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9) He left the splendor of heaven to seek and to save all who are lost, filled with the poverty of their sin, and stuff, and things.
Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has no where to lay his head. The religious authorities, however, questioned his integrity and choice of company. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Mothers let their children run into his embrace. He picked them up and held them close. Sitting on his lap and around his feet he blessed them and in their dreams they giggled and danced on streets of gold and breathed the air of eternity.
Greatness? Not as this world measures greatness. Pointing to a child, Jesus says, "Truly, (that means, this is really important) I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:1-6) Jesus is talking to anyone who exploits our children as play things to be compromised and raped and pillaged of their childness!
Jesus emptied himself. These profound words fill the imagination of everyone who call him Lord.
Jesus emptied himself and filled the darkened eyes of the blind with new vision.
Jesus emptied himself and clothed the leper with new skin.
Jesus emptied himself and opened the closed up ears of the deaf.
Jesus emptied himself and said to the woman taken in the very act of adultery, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."
As we confess in the Creed, 'For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.'
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
"Sacrifices and offerings thou has not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared me;
in burn offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, 'Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,'
as it is written of me in the roll of the book." (Hebrews 10:5-8)
He who knew no sin, took his place among the outcasts and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. And we preach Christ crucified.
Foolishness? Folly? Neither.
The preaching of the cross is the proclamation of the great power and love of God that saves those who believe.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"
John Donne died an Anglican priest. I close this Meditation on the Mystery of Christ and our Salvation with the last paragraph from his last sermon given in 1631 titled Death's Duel:
There we leave you in that blessed dependency, to hang upon him that hangs upon the cross, there bathe in his tears, there suck at his wounds, and lie down in peace in his grave, till he vouchsafe you a resurrection, and an ascension into that kingdom which He hath prepared for you with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com