We all know the story well. Maybe not all the details, but we know the storyline. We especially know the ending. We know it ends well. That there is a happy ending.
We just heard the story. Today, we join the crowds of Jesus disciples welcoming him as king, as the Messiah into Jerusalem. This week we will join him in his journey to Calvary. We will be with him in the upper room for the Last supper where he ordains his twelve closest disciples as the first bishops and priests of the Church. Where he gives us the greatest gift we have, the Most Holy Eucharist. We will walk with him to the garden of Gethsemane where he will pray and be betrayed by Judas. We will spend the night locked up with Jesus. We will go with him before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate, King Herod and back to Pilate where he will be condemned to death. We will be with him as he is scourged, and mocked as king. We will walk with him as He carries his cross all the way to Calvary, where he will be crucified and die the death of a cursed criminal. And we will accompany him into the tomb. And after three days in the tomb we will be there at the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. We will witness his resurrection.
A lot of bad stuff will happen this week to Jesus. Awful stuff. The greatest act of injustice ever to occur. Lots of bad stuff will happen. But we know the ending. We know it is a happy ending.
The same goes with our life. Especially. Especially the challenges of our time. Bad stuff is happening and will happen. But because we are Christian. Because we have been baptized into Christ’s death, we can also hope to rise with him. We know that as bad as things can be, we know that there is a happy ending to it all. We know that God will bring us through it.
And I don’t mean pie in the sky optimism. Choosing to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Christian hope is different than secular optimism. Optimism is a blind irrational choice just to imagine that things will be better with no reason for doing so. Things may not get better. Christian hope is different. Christian hope is based on the fact that Easter Sunday always comes after Good Friday. That Christ literally rose from the dead. Our hope comes from the fact from God’s promise, that if we share in Christ’s death, we will also share in his resurrection. We will suffer and we may even die from this virus, but if we are united to Christ in faith, hope, and charity, God will take care of us. St. Paul says,
“This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
if we persevere we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.”
There are so many ways we can enter into the great passion narrative we just heard. There are so many characters and dynamics taking place. I hope you take time to prayerfully read this narrative throughout this most holy of weeks. I would just suggest one point of entry. Consider Jesus in the garden. When “Jesus advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” I believe at this time in history, with the corona virus, and stay at home orders and all the rest. That each of us are having our garden moment. God is offering us the cup of suffering to drink. Will we accept the cup that comes to us? Will we drink from the cup that God gives to us? Or will we fight and reject it? Will we complain? Will we just get lazy? I know it’s not pleasant. Faithfulness to the will of God is often not pleasant. It is not appealing. It wasn’t for Jesus. But out of love he drank the cup that was given him. But for the joy of heaven he drank the cup that his Father offered him. Will we drink the cup that is given to us, today? Because if we do, yes, we will suffer, yes, we will die. But we will suffer with Christ near us. We will die in Christ. And therefore, we will rise with him to eternal glory. Let us not refuse the cup that is offered us. Let us drink from the cup that God is giving us.