I remember being in school being so distracted and having a real difficulty focusing on my schoolwork, especially during the late winter or early spring. Whether it was the warming days or the fatigue of the long school year I really had to muster all the strength I had to focus to get the job done.
We are very much distracted this Lent by something far more frightening and powerful than the budding of the trees and the promise of spring. The Covid-19 virus, unfortunately takes much of our attention. This is simply because when it’s a matter of survival and physical wellbeing we take notice. Suddenly we are all eyes and ears.
As Christians we must never forget that while we must be good stewards of our physical and psychological health it is our spiritual condition, the state of our soul that counts. Today we celebrate the joyous entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. There was no social distancing in this gathering. The crowds engulfed Christ as He entered the City of David on the colt, or young donkey, a symbol of the humility He illustrated here on earth.
Christ is entering the final stage of His ministry the work that led Him to His death on the cross. We don’t always think of this but Christ came to die. His mission on this planet was to die, period. At His nativity, lying in a manger, He took on our human nature; He took on earthly life so He could give it up by His death as the perfect offering for our sin.
Jesus was not distracted. He was not confused about who He was or why He was living in the first century AD. At the age of twelve He is discussing theology with the leaders of the Jewish temple. He responds to Mary and Joseph’s exasperation of His being lost with the simple response that He had to be in His Father’s house doing His Father’s will.
At the wedding at Cana He indicates to His mother that if He creates wine out of water His ministry will begin and their relationship would change forever. This would start Him down the road of His physical demise, that is, His death. Jesus was born to die. Christ was focused on this mission from childhood to adulthood; He was not distracted from His call.
Today, over 2000 years later, Christ is calling us to die. Not God forbid from the current scourge of Covid-19, but to the self, the selfish, self-focused attitude that works against the focus of service and love toward others. Despite all that confronts us today the physical danger is the least of our troubles. It is the damage and disease of the soul that is far more severe and long lasting.
Christ is ever existent. He always lived. He was born in the flesh and came to us to die. We who die (for this is the reality for us all as humans) will be born to a new life for eternity.
The joyous entrance in Jerusalem is a moment of celebratory respite from the difficulties and hatred Jesus experienced throughout His mission preaching the Gospel, and the soon coming suffering and passion He will experience. It points to His glorious resurrection. It is a reminder to us that this life, with all its trials and difficulties is our moment of suffering before an eternity of joy and glory with the Blessed Trinity, if we are focused on doing God’s will now. It means giving not taking, serving not getting, putting others first.
Jesus calls all of us to be focused on the work of God that is overcoming everything that keeps us from a relationship with Him. There is a lot that can easily get in the way. Yet He asks us to have the same focus as Christ does, that is, to destroy sin and thereby death itself, the end result of sin.
Despite all the bad news that distracts us with the pandemic there are many today who are sacrificing their health and wellbeing in the service of others. Let’s be focused on the true reality that Christ offered Himself up so that we may live forever, where no pathogen or evil can harm us. For it is only through sacrifice, the refusal to give into selfish desires and pleasures, and by serving others first, that true happiness can be ours. Let’s ride forward in humility as Our Lord did on the first Palm Sunday accepting the work He has ahead of us always being willing to sacrifice our own desires for God and the good of others.