By Fernando C. Saldivar, S.J.
We have arrived. Here we are on the cusp of Holy Week. Our journey through Lent is very nearly complete. We are here, on Palm Sunday, at the gates of Jerusalem with Jesus. Even though we all know the story, what we commemorate over the coming days, God has been waiting for this particular moment, in this particular place, to walk the Passion with all of us. Because very often, particularly after our second Lent of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we need a reminder that what we celebrate is not simply what Jesus did two thousand years ago, but what Jesus is doing today. We need a reminder of Emmanuel – that God is with us – that God is intimately involved in the unfolding of our lives and breathing his spirit into our communities.
We need the grace to trust God, and even when we are faced with the frightening, the sorrowful, the burdens that seem more than we can bear, it is precisely at that moment that Jesus clutches our hand tighter to pull us through.
With that in mind, it helps to remember that the word “compassion” means “to suffer with,” to share one’s passion. Yes, we share the passion and suffering of Jesus, but he very much shares our own individual passion, our own suffering. This God who so loved the world that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life is also God who loves us so much that he comes to us as one of us, to feel pain as we do, to cry as we do, to feel loss, fear and anguish as we do. God who weeps with us and shares our lament. God who helps us carry the crosses in our lives, knowing first-hand how very heavy they feel in human hands.
We have not been left orphans during the pandemic. God remains right here in the midst of our suffering, sharing the passion our entire world has been walking for more than a year. With vaccines on the way and ability to see a glimmer of what the world after COVID will look like, perhaps our long global Lent, the time of the pandemic, is finally at an end. Yet, the message of Palm Sunday is not to wait for terrible things to happen, for the joy of the moment to end, but to hope and trust in the Lord. We may not be able to clearly make out what the coming days hold, how we are going to get from point A to point B in our lives, but we know that we are God’s beloved and if we are still enough can hear him say, “All will be well.”