No Meaningless Suffering

Weekly Missionary Reflection
Palm Sunday, 10 April 2022

Isa. 50:4-7; Ps. 22:8-9,17-18a,19-20,23-24; Flp. 2:6-11; Luk. 22:14- 23:56 (long) atau Luk. 23:1-49 (short)

Every Palm Sunday we reflect on the Passion of Jesus. Luke’s story has some characteristics and messages.

First, only one sentence of Jesus’ word on the Cross is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark/Matthew: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Luke’s Gospel does not have this saying, instead, he wrote another three sentences which were not found in other New Testament books. Every sentence is like a summary of the main themes in Luke’s Gospel. In 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”. This saying is the summary of Jesus’ teaching to His disciples about prayer and forgiveness (cf. 6:28). The second saying in 23:43: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”. This sentence is the summary of Luke’s teaching on Jesus saving words and deeds that happen “now”  (cf. 2:11; 4:21; 5:26; 19:9). The third sentence in 23:46: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” is the summary of Luke’s preaching on Jesus as the Son of God who accepted His suffering and death in a glorious way! Luke’s message is clear: every Christian has to face all persecutions like Jesus did: forgiving and staying united with the Father in prayer and self-surrender.

Second, Mark/Matthew emphasized that Jesus went through all His suffering alone, and His disciples failed to accompany Him. Jesus even felt abandoned by His Father! In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was not alone in His suffering. During the agony in the garden, He was strengthened by an angel. On the way to the cross, many women cried for Him. Jesus healed the high priest’s servant ear, one of the crowd who arrested Him. He restored (reconciled) the relationship between Herod and Pilate who judged Him. This is exactly the meaning of Jesus’ death: to heal and reconcile humanity with God! This is His legacy for us: there is no meaningless suffering. There is no unfruitful death. In faith, all the suffering, injustice, and our death will be a means of salvation for ourselves and others.

Third, in Matthew/Mark Gospel, all Jews hated Jesus. However, Luke’s Gospel tells us that a large crowd of people followed Jesus to the cross (23:27) without mocking Him. They returned home beating their breast because of regret (23:48). Women of Jerusalem mourned Him. Luke said nothing about the veil of the sanctuary being torn in two, as this Gospel saw Jerusalem and the sanctuary of the Lord in a positive way. The Gospel of Luke is started with Israel’s representative (Zechariah), a symbol of the old people of God  “praising the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem” (1:8 and so on) and ended with the new people of God (Jesus’ disciples) “praising the Lord” also in Jerusalem temple (24:53). Our faith is not our creation or reflection. Our faith comes from the tradition of God’s people in OT as well as Christian Church in NT. These communal and radical aspects of our faith that we need to always be aware of, as we reflect on the Lord’s Passion during this Holy Week.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of Indonesian Church of this month:

For Universal Churches: Health workers
We pray for the health workers who take care of the sick and elder, especially those in poor countries; may they have sufficient support from the government and local community.

For Indonesian Churches intention: Behave towards consumerism
We pray that we can stay modest and be not tempted to possess the unnecessary things in the midst of the wave of consumerism that dictates the world.

Amen

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