Palm Sunday (José Antonio Pagola)

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Nothing could stop him

The Baptist’s execution was not just by chance.  A wide-spread idea among the Jewish people is that the destiny awaiting a prophet is misunderstanding, rejection, and all too often, death.  Probably, Jesus reckoned early on with the possibility of his meeting a violent end.  Jesus was not suicidal nor was he looking for martyrdom.  He never wanted suffering for either himself or anyone else.  He dedicated his life to fight it in sickness, injustice, marginalization and hopelessness.  He lived wholly committed to “seeking God’s kingdom and his justice,” that more dignified and happy world for everybody, which the Father seeks.

If he accepts persecution and martyrdom, it is out of faithfulness to the project of God who does not want to see his sons and daughters suffer.  Hence, Jesus does not run toward death, nor does he turn back.  He does not flee in the face of threats, nor does he modify or soften his message.

He could have easily avoided execution.  It would have been enough for him to keep quiet and not insist on things that could upset people in the temple or in the palace of the Roman prefect.  But he did not do so.  He continued on his way.  He would rather be executed than betray his conscience and be unfaithful to the project of God, his Father.

He learned to live in a climate of insecurity, conflicts and accusations.  Day by day he kept reaffirming his mission and went on announcing his message clearly.  He dared to spread it not just in remote Galilean villages, but even in the dangerous surroundings of the temple.  Nothing stopped him.

He will die faithful to the God in whom he has always trusted.  He will keep welcoming everyone, even sinners and the unwanted.  If they end up rejecting him, he will die as an “excluded,” but he will confirm with his death what his whole life has been about:  complete trust in a God who neither rejects anyone nor excludes anybody from his forgiveness.

He will continue seeking God’s kingdom and his justice, identifying himself with the poorest and the most scorned.  If someday they execute him by crucifixion, a punishment reserved for slaves, he will die as the poorest and most scorned, but his death will seal forever his faith in a God who wants the salvation of human beings from all that enslaves them.

We followers of Jesus discover the ultimate Mystery of being, made flesh in his love and utmost commitment to human beings.  In the love of this crucified man is God himself who identifies himself with all those who suffer, crying out against all injustices and forgiving all executioners of all times.  One can believe in this God or not, but one cannot make fun of him.  We Christians trust in him.  Nothing will stop him in his endeavor to save his children.

José Antonio Pagola

April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday (A)
Matthew 26, 14 – 27, 66

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