This Palm Sunday, Christians all over the world celebrated the entry of the victorious Christ in Jerusalem. The entry 2000 years ago was celebrated by crowds singing hymns to the Messiah and carrying palms of trees as a sign of victory. Although the same crowds who celebrated Christ's entry into Jerusalem turned against him on the following Friday, the Church continued to celebrate Palm Sunday as an event that prefigures Christ's coming with power. The Jews still await his coming while Christians await his second coming. The Christian concept of power is distinct from the concept of power in other religions, because the power of God is not magic nor the imposition of a law for obedience, but rather an unending love that is the essence of the living Triune God before all ages and to eternity. God creates everything, including time, out of love. The Father wishes to share his immense joy with creation. He is free and full of joy because he has eternally kept nothing to himself but has given his full divinity to his image the Son. The Son too, in gratitude and love, returns the divinity he receives to his Father and thus he is in full joy and is free. The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between Father and Son. He is also full joy and free because he shares everything he gets with the Father and the Son. He is the life-giver to all creation (Genesis 1: 2). By this same power of the Holy Spirit, Christ was incarnate from the Virgin Mary. The incarnation of Christ could not have taken place without the acceptance and collaboration of Mary with the divine power (Luke 1: 38). Throughout his life, Christ performed miracles by the power of God which is his power only out of love. His teaching was with power and authority derived from his divinity (Matt 7: 29). His passion unto death is not only an example, but the revelation of his power of love in trusting his Father, thanking his Father, and as a human person dying in his Father's hands. Christ's love is revealed in his filial obedience to his mother Mary and to Joseph, his outreach to the enemies of his Jewish culture whether the Samaritans or the Canaanites, his choice of uneducated men to be his followers, his compassion for the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the socially outcast, and surely his forgiveness of his killers while on the cross atoning for the sins of the world. His resurrection and ascension body and soul to the Father are by the power of love that brings about the entry of humanity into the mystery of God. The victorious Christ still labours in time through his Spirit in order to bring creation that he so much loved into the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21: 2).
However, the drama of the holy week, that Christ experienced in his suffering to death, continues in fallen and redeemed humanity. The killing of Fr. Frans van der Lugt in Syria last week was followed by much suffering in the Middle East. The Knights of Columbus at Jesus the King Church had launched last December a project to help the Syrian sick and hungry which is a relief (You can probably help in this holy week here). In Ukraine again reports of Russian army movements are causing alarm in the West (See The Economist here) as well as opposing reports from Russia that Putin is attempting to replace the American dollar with the Russian ruble in the global market of currency which would affect most economies that depend on the American dollar. The same publisher claims that an economic alliance between Russia and China may as well involve Germany (See here). And we wonder how humans betray each other so easily for their own false glory.
Jim Flaherty, a lawyer and economist from top universities who had a long outstanding career in Canada's public service and since 2005 served as Minister of Finance passed away last week at the age of 64 only a few weeks after his retirement in March. He loved his family and worked to help the disabled (See CBC).
Yes, we can mourn the departed but we cannot despair of God's love towards them and us. He is the only hope after all humans could do to survive death. We hold this hope in view of the Resurrection of Christ (See Joseph Ratzinger on the truth of the Resurrection here).
Palm Sunday this year was my 60th birthday anniversary. It was significant for me because in 1986 after my heart attack, I asked Professor Dr. Michael Sole my cardiologist and a top caring researcher, what age he thought I would live to. His answer then was that if everything went well I could live to be 60. Of course he could not predict how long I would live, but the number got stuck in my memory especially because I was so fearful that I could die within 2 years. Dr. Sole did not know then that within 16 years he would diagnose a near-fatal aortic aneurysm for which I was seen by Professor Dr. Tirone David, a top heart surgeon in North America, in 2003. Dr. David explained the high risk associated with the surgery so out of fear I decided not to have the surgery. When I had my kidney cancer in 2004, Professor Dr. Michael Jewett, a top urology surgeon, asked that I confirm with Dr. Sole and Dr. David whether I could undergo a surgery to remove the carcinoma tissue from my left kidney, a surgery successfully performed in 2005 but after which I had a massive bleeding due to my blood anticoagulant. And again after a successful prostate surgery in Montreal in July 2007, I neglected taking my blood anticoagulant.medication which caused a stroke with depression. The strange thing is that I survived until today in spite of all my selfishness, sins and the above medical problems (If interested read the full story written in 2011 here). When I was seen by Dr. Sole after my stroke, he said to me "God is smiling upon you." Last November he repeated "You have proven us wrong." But who really has proven them wrong? Certainly not I. I only want to live, My family wants me to live. My extended family and friends pray for me. The only one who can give me life is God. This is why my wife always reminds me to be thankful to God; for my aortic aneurysm could have ended my life since 2002; my cancer discovered in a urine checkup, could have ended my life; my stroke could have ended my life'; and still I am growing older.
Only a day before Palm Sunday, I contacted all my friends by email, and on Facebook to respond to a request by an aging man for his 60th birthday anniversary. The responses, some 300, overwhelmed me with the generosity that I could not expect from men and women whose lives are very busy. Yes, I wanted to know who reads me. But I also wanted to see how a little effort can generate a lot of thanksgiving to God, and a lot of empathy, and a lot of togetherness. If God responds with such generous love to me who is unworthy, how much more would Christ really pour himself when in the holy week so many Christians can pray including you my friends? He uses everyone of us in order to strengthen the other and open himself or herself to God. Such is the victorious Christ!
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.