Introduction: as in the liturgy, blessing of the palms.
Do you remember the old stations of the cross; they were full of sweat and blood and a sorrowful Saviour rebuking us for our sins. They were both right, and yet at another level mistaken. The cross was hard, yes, but it was also a site of joyful triumph, the triumph of self-giving love. It tells us amazingly what God is like, a being of infinite suffering love for us. That is why we began this mass with the celebration of Christ as king, riding in triumph into Jerusalem, but immediately went on to read the account of his crucifixion. It seems a contradiction but in fact it is not. For Christ, in the words of the old hymn, is “king of love on calvary”. He made that choice right at the beginning in the desert when the devil tempted him to be a king who serves his own desires, power and glory. He chose instead to be the suffering servant. The apostles tempted him in vain to turn from that, to be a political Messiah. Christ had to rebuke Peter “get behind me Satan”, he’d lure Christ from the cross.
And that’s the lesson for us. If we want to be Christ’s followers, we too must be suffering servants of God and others. Christ was that to the Last drop of his blood and the challenge is passed on to us to do likewise: “love one another as I have loved you”. He he loved us to the last drop of his blood, until he’d nothing left except his very soul, which he also gave up.
But the main temptation the church and each Christians faces is the temptation to dodge the cross; to serve our own power, wealth and glory ruthlessly, to forget our duty to God and others. So we would avoid the cross of doing what is right, of priestly celibacy, of religious life lived in humility, of poverty & obedience, of being humble lay servants of God in the community, of marriage faithfulness, of generous giving charity. We avoid them because our world tells us to live it up at all costs, to cheat as much as we can, to be assertive and wholly selfish. But thats not Christ’s way, its a dead end without resurrection, glory or enduring happiness. God raised Jesus up to be Lord and Saviour, only after he became king of suffering love on Calvary. His example of humble self-giving love and sacrifice is what saves, so its what He calls us to. Only by suffering with him in doing what is right can we be sure of being glorified with him, forever and ever, amen.
Prayers and the rest as in the liturgy