Father Michael Cupp pointed out to us something new to me, that Sunday began Passiontide, which is the last two weeks of Lent, ending on Holy Saturday, the next day, of course, being Easter. So that this week is actually to be a special preparation for the week that follows, the most important Christian holiday, or holy day of the year, and actually days at that, beginning with Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
This coming Sunday, Palm Sunday starts in a celebratory way with Palm branches being waved along with exclamations of Hosanna praise to Jesus. But it soon becomes somber as the hard reality sets in on just why Jesus had “gone up to Jerusalem” at this time. John 12:1-8 was the gospel reading for Sunday, Father Michael adding verses 9-11 to point out how the religious authorities wanted to kill Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead, since many Jews were believing in Jesus because of him.
There will be hate for our witness to Jesus, even if in our case in America it is largely if not completely confined to the hate of the demonic host, with our own demon seeking to snuff out both our witness to Jesus, as well as our very life in him. But even during those occasions, we can use them for drawing near to God in and through Jesus. Assured, as Father Michael thought it likely that Lazarus was assured (and not afraid), that God has our life in his hands, and that even in the trouble we face, God is working for our good.
The focus necessarily should not be on us, even though we along with the world become the objects of the subject we are focusing on. Our focus should be on the Lord and his sufferings during this time. What he went through, what this means for us and for the world both in terms of our salvation, sanctification and service, as well as judgment and new creation in him.
The hour was coming in which the Son of Man would be glorified, and God would be glorified in him. And oddly enough at the same time, the hour when darkness would reign, and Satan would have his way through Judas Iscariot with the Jewish religious leaders and Herod, along with Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers. It would be a terrible time when all the darkness of this world would be honed in on Jesus, but with the end result that the darkness is to be vanquised at last through his death and resurrection.
I had kind of an odd turn Sunday which has left me ill at ease, nothing that I haven’t experienced numerous times before. But such experiences are not easy to go through. But I receive it as part of what God can use to prepare me for Holy Week, and beyond, to have the grace with God’s people to share in Christ’s sufferings, that we together, along with all creation may indeed share in his glory.