As Charlestown blossoms literally and figuratively into this early springtime, everyone is hoping we are moving back to something we used to call normal. Yet I think all of us have heard people say we will never get back to normal and we do not really know what the new is going to be. Nonetheless, in this beautiful season, a new normal is being lifted up to us.
Ironically, it is new while at the same time being ancient. This weekend Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, that moment 2000 years ago when the Jewish community in Jerusalem recognized in Jesus the long hoped for fulfillment of the ancient promise. They greeted him in the valley ascending to the great city, hacking palm branches from nearby trees and laying them on the dusty road tread by a donkey carrying the Messiah. Everything about this Jesus, the itinerant prophet, was new. No one had ever spoken about God the way He spoke. The message and the actions, the healings and the teachings, the very lifestyle and person of the carpenter from Nazareth captured the minds and hearts of the people. Something new had arrived.
While Christians remember that day from long ago, the relationship to which all are invited in the present moment is entirely new. Relationships are like that. If they are authentic, they are never static; they are alive and invite us into ever growing depth. The promise God makes to human kind is a new covenant, a new way of being in relationship with God. It is new in that it is defined not by commandments, regulations, and various practices. Rather it is defined in terms of an authentic, intimate, relationship of love.
Christianity is about a relationship — it is not about a series of do’s and don’ts. The Creator God freely offers the relationship. It is not of our making. It is a gift just as our very life is a gift. The invitation to renew the relationship in
the springtime of 2021 offers to each person a new normal. This normal is so very much richer, more profound, and transformative than the normal of earlier days.
I have never met anyone who is not searching in some way, at some level. There is, I believe, a universal restlessness among all humankind and it has been heightened during this tragic, unimaginably painful year. On the one hand, we
could feel we are restless to return to everything that used to be. I would suggest that is not enough. However, what is enough and is being proclaimed at the beginning of this most holy week is the invitation into an ever-deeper relationship with our God.
Wherever we find ourselves on the continuum of restlessness, the invitation for men and women of faith in this holy season that includes Ramadan, Passover, and Easter, invites all to a new normal ever ancient and ever new. There is a good reason as to why this is called a season of hope.
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
March 27/28, 2021
This weekend we participate in the proclamation of the passion and death of Jesus
according to the Gospel of Mark. In the extended version of this weekend’s Gospel
reading, Jesus is at Gethsemane, praying to his Father, in much emotional distress.
He knows he can save himself. He can escape over the Mount of Olives in the dead
of night and make his way safely into the Judean desert.
Instead, Jesus chooses obedience to his Father and waits for his persecutors.
As Saint Paul puts it in the second reading, Jesus is “obedient to the point of death.”
Jesus’ obedience is a lesson for those who are good stewards of their life in Christ.
Let us reflect on how we might be more obedient to the will of God instead of our own will.