Much to my chagrin my sisters and brothers in Christ, I’m going to date myself a bit to start things off as we celebrate this last Sunday of the season – Palm Sunday that is, move forward into the last three days of Lent, and then launch into the Tridium.
When I was growing up my dad was a huge fan of Paul Harvey’s radio show The Rest of the Story, which aired for the first 47 years of my life (though the show did start well before I was born). It took me a few years to appreciate the show. But as I grew older my appreciation for it grew. And while having the whole “story” in many senses is a great thing, I’d like to challenge everyone to try one of the things I attempt every year at this time.
Try to experience the next few days of the Church year as if you don’t know the rest of the story. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to Mr. Harvey in a few moments.) In these days leading up to the Tridium, try to shift the way you look at this particular historical event to the perspective of those people who heard, met, and experienced Jesus’ life and preaching firsthand.
The possibilities for prayer and reflection are perhaps endless. We begin with Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem for the final time before His death and resurrection. It was an amazing time. What must it have been like for someone who was seeing Jesus for the first time? What must all of that excitement have been like for those who had known Him and learned from Him during the years He preached? I can sometimes imagine them thinking, “At last, people can see what we have learned! Jesus is the One for all of us!” And then after all the excitement, the truly important and difficult things begin … just like it does in our lives today.
In the Gospel, think of what it must have been like for Peter and the rest of the Apostles at the last supper. What would it have been like to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, like we do, for the first time in history? After such a powerful moment and Peter’s promise to never turn away from Jesus, what must it have been like for all of them when they ran? How do you think Peter felt after he deigned even knowing Jesus? How do you think our Blessed mother Mary, the Apostle John, and the other women accompanying them felt as they stood at the foot of the Cross experiencing the real cost of the sins we commit?
To enter into moments like this in our thoughts and in our hearts can open us to see and perhaps recognize that we are not the only good and hopefully holy people who struggle at times. At times, brothers and sisters, our lives will be difficult. We will make mistakes. We will have ups and downs.
Today we get to remember that despite all of those difficulties, despite all of our errors and sins and mistakes, He endured everything from the reading we have today for us. Jesus did what He did in such a dramatic way to show us He knows our pains and struggles. He did it all simply to show each and every one of us that no one is beyond His forgiveness. He took on the cost of our sins to show us how much we are loved as individuals.
If everything would have ended where our Gospel ended today, this would have been a very sad thing. Thankfully though, “the rest of the story” continues next Saturday evening on Easter Vigil! And a good rest of the story it is!