“Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me.”
by Sister Joseph Fennimore, OSB
Today, Palm Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week, which takes us through the last days of Jesus’ life, especially those of his passion and death. One message is clear as we ponder all the readings for this Sunday. The passion of Jesus Christ as a loyal servant is in each one of the scripture passages given.
The passage from the 50th chapter of the prophet Isaiah is what is called a ‘suffering servant song.’ It describes ghastly sufferings of a person in the hands of others, one who did not back away or shield himself from ridicule and blows. He remained steadfast and in place, accepting the role of a faithful servant. The Catholic Church sees this passage as foreshadowing Christ in his sufferings on Good Friday.
The second reading, from the letter to the Philippians, describes Jesus as a slave or servant, one who gave his all. Through total obedience to the Father he accepted all the suffering given to him and finally his death, through which we have all been redeemed. His servanthood was rewarded in exaltation and glory.
The gospel reading, the passion story from Mark, should be read slowly. It covers the last events in Jesus’ life, those events that led to his crucifixion and death on the cross. It is the story of the servant who did not shield himself from adversity and who remained firm and steadfast in this journey of suffering. He did not try to save himself but went to his death with open arms.
We are called to follow and imitate Jesus in his role of servanthood. Whatever vocation we have been called to we are to be servants. We are to serve God through our wholehearted service to one another. Perhaps this week we can examine ourselves with the questions, “What kind of a servant have I been? Have I embraced it for the good of others and given my all?”
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“This very obedience will be acceptable to God and agreeable only if compliance with what is commanded is not cringing, sluggish, or halfhearted.” Chapter 5:14
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” Philippians 2:8-9