The Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
25 March 2018 at Saint Peter and Saint William Churches in Naples, FL
Isaiah 50, 4-7 + Psalm 22 + Philippians 2, 6-11 + Mark 14, 1 to 15, 47
Too often suffering is seen as a punishment from God, but nothing could be further from the truth. God does not punish. God saves. The only reason God allows suffering is that good can come from it. Our pain can, if we allow it, bring us closer to God. Comfort comes from knowing that Jesus Christ, innocent and without sin, has gone down the road of
suffering before us all the way to the end. We are reminded that in the midst of his suffering, he cared about others, the women of Jerusalem, the thieves hanging with him, and of course, his mother. There was nothing but love in him, a love that poured out with his blood. Jesus did not die to save us from suffering. He died to teach us how to suffer. The road of suffering is difficult and unique for everyone who makes the journey. No one’s suffering is the same as someone else’s, but in the midst of our suffering, we can be drawn out to see the suffering of others. No one can offer comfort better than someone who has also suffered and is no stranger to pain.
Suffering and pain can make us bitter, or it can purify and make us noble, great, and holy. The greatest people I have known are people who have suffered. They are p
eople who have confronted their pain with hope. The truth is, pain and suffering are an indispensable part of becoming truly human, people of compassion and maturity. These are people who do not run from life, but who embrace it with love and with hope. This is their day. This day and the days to follow this week are a time for us all to grow up and grow out. This is a day to examine our own suffering in the light of how Jesus suffered. It is a time to reject bitterness and embrace compassion, and the time to stand with others who suffer as well and provide by our faith some light in the darkness of their fears and loneliness.