In a few days, we will celebrate Palm Sunday, or, more precisely, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, since the liturgy combines two contrasting moments, one of joy and the other of suffering. First, we will re-enact Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as a king riding a donkey, a sign of peace. Later, we will stand to attention and participate in the reading of the Gospel, all the way from our Lord’s betrayal and trial, right up to His crucifixion and death. 

Did you know that many of our Protestant brothers and sisters regard the crucifix as a Catholic symbol? Preferring not to dwell on Jesus’s death, many denominations use only a bare cross so as to focus on the Resurrection. 

As Catholics, we also use bare crosses and focus on the Resurrection. Every Sunday is a little Easter! However, we value the crucifix because Christ’s victory over evil was precisely through His suffering. The crucifix is a sign of divine love, a love that is unstoppable by anything that hell can hurl against it. 

Careful, repeated meditation on the Passion of Christ is the key to the mystery of divine love. How could contemplation of his Passion not lead to an embrace of Jesus in one’s heart? Christ crucified is the King of our hearts. We could spend our whole lives pondering his Passion, and we should. 

The hard part is that we know we are called to follow Jesus by bearing crosses for the sake of others. This suffering, this participation in God’s love, if pursued humbly and sincerely, transforms us by making us more Christ-like. 

This should be done by freely lightening the burdens of those who are less fortunate. It should also be done by being more patient, generous and kind with those we are close to. Often to our great alarm and dismay, it should also be done by returning good for evil. 

In his explanation of perfect joy to Brother Leo, Saint Francis says to bear insults patiently. In other words, when we are harmed, we must not react. By refusing to react, we are not condoning the harmful behaviour or inviting its reoccurrence. What Francis had discovered through the Passion of Christ is that by maintaining our good intentions towards others, we find inner peace. 

When others harm you, take a step back and turn your attention towards the sacred space in your heart. A peaceful approach to things in life can go a long way towards living the Gospel. 

This Sunday, I encourage you to dwell on the inner peace Jesus displayed during his betrayal, trial, crucifixion and death. Maintaining our good intentions, no matter what happens, is central to following Christ. 

A faithful Catholic from the Diocese of Montreal