The Suffering Nature of Christ – Palm Sunday – Father Istifanus Sheyin
We celebrate today the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. His kingship is not that of politics where he campaigns or makes promises. He never promised anything as He rode on the donkey into Jerusalem. His kingship is that of sincerity and service. This explains why the readings of today talk about service.
The first reading talks about the nature of the servant who offers His body even in the face of suffering and shame. The second reading talks of the personality of the Christ. It says; ‘Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’. In this reading, we see the humility of Christ as well as His simplicity and self-emptying.
This is also reflected in the gospel reading about the passion of Christ. However, the kingship of Christ is established through His passion and suffering. This means that His passion is part of His own identity and we cannot talk about Christ as king without reflecting on His passion.
Going further, the gospel reading reminds us of the double standards of human nature. The people who shouted Hosanna were the ones that shouted that He be crucified. It is a warning especially for those in political office who have people praising them all the time. Those people can turn around anytime once political power is no more. When people praise, it is not permanent but the praise of God is permanent. This is why we should always strive to do the will of God at all times and not the will of man.
In addition, the passion story tells us that salvation did not come to us overnight but came through a process. But in our world today, many people do not like to endure any process. They are quick to jump queues and do not want any form of suffering as exemplified in their prayers and songs against suffering. What must be noted is that Christ suffered for us and we must follow in His footsteps. When we suffer, we must see it in light of His own suffering. He suffered for a purpose – our salvation. So when we suffer, we must realise that the cross is at the centre of our Christian life.
May God almighty grant us the grace as we journey through the days leading to Easter so that we may accept the reality of the cross so that when the glory of Easter is revealed to us, we will enjoy it for eternity through Christ our Lord. Amen.