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Timeless, Personal Salvation

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt (Jn 12:13-15)!"

A reflection from Father Tudgay for Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion.

A priest friend of mine was assigned to a parish outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania a few years back. Once when I was visiting him, we were driving to get some supper and drove past one of the fields where the famous battle was being re-enacted. I knew that these re-enactments took place by historians and Civil War buffs, but had never actually seen one up close. My friend was quite used to it because he saw it happen all the time. I asked if we could stop and watch for a few minutes. A gentleman who was also in attendance noticed my captivation with the events and explained the painstaking accuracy with which the historians and hobbyists recreated the scene. The level of detail was impressive! 


We are a people of tradition. We love to commemorate the past, either by re-enacting a historic event or by dutifully observing those traditions that are part of our identity. This week, Christians throughout the world embark on Holy Week. This week begins with Passion Sunday, with the commemoration of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. Through these days, the drama of the Paschal Mystery presents an opportunity for us to journey with Christ through his passion, death, and resurrection. The events, commemorated each year, give us a glimpse into the unfathomable depths of the Father’s love for us, shown in Christ’s obedient fulfillment of his own mission.  


There is a risk, however, in how we approach this week. While these events, whose familiar commemoration are embedded in the Church’s liturgical life, are events that took place at a certain moment in history, their essence represents a timelessness that is as accessible to us now as they were at the very moment they happened. We have to keep in mind that the events of the Paschal Mystery, from Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem through Mary of Magdala’s exasperated announcement of his resurrection, are all actions of God, the Son. Because these events are a deliberate action of God they inherently transcend the boundaries of time, space, and history. In the Church’s liturgy, as we commemorate these events, we live them right now as Jesus lives them right here and now for us and with us. We’re not recreating or re-enacting the past… we’re present with Jesus in his passion and death that he undergoes for us now, in the circumstances of our own lives. 


I want to invite everyone in our parishes to pause this week and consider the words and actions and the deliberate silence of Jesus through these events. Each one of his words and each gesture and each moment where he chooses to remain silent has a specific purpose for each of us at this specific moment in our lives. We aren’t re-enacting anything this week. Rather, we’re experiencing the events of Christ’s saving love happening now in real time in the circumstances of our lives and in the circumstances of world history.  


We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the World…  

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