Humility in Suffering and Service
Rdgs: (1st: Is 50, 4-7; Ps 21; 2nd: Phil 2, 6-11; Gos: Lc 8, 7. 14-23, 56)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today the Church celebrates the entry of Christ into Jerusalem in order to accomplish his paschal mystery. This Sunday is called Palm or Passion Sunday. While Palm Sunday signifies royalty and triumph, Passion Sunday signifies both suffering and love. By freely going to Jerusalem, Christ demonstrates his humility and willingness to save us.
On this day the Christian community begins to re-enact a very important phase of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. We re-enact the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem as well as his passion. Hence today’s celebration reminds us of the dual nature of our Christian lives and journey. We are celebrated today and persecuted tomorrow. Today we are loved while the next day we are hated. Today we are praised and castigated the next day.
A very important lesson we must learn from all these is that, as life unfolds it presents us with its different dimensions. The same people who sing our praise in good times might be the same people to castigate us in future. Today, the same people applauding Christ by singing: “Hosanna to the son of David,” might equally be the same people to shout: “Crucify him!” This is the mystery and dialectics of life. It is a mystery because at times understanding it is beyond our imagination. It is dialectical because these two aspects of life help us to understand who we truly are, and what we mean to people.
A look at today’s readings portrays the humility with which Christ approached these situations. Our first reading is taken from one of the “ebed Yahweh” (Suffering Servant of Yahweh’s) songs. Christ is prefigured in this song as the suffering servant. Christ humbly endured his suffering without any resistance. Also, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we see humility at its apogee. This is the kenosis or self-emptying of Christ: “Though he was in the form of man, He did not regard equality with God.”
Our gospel today is on the Last supper of Christ with his disciples. At the Last Supper, Christ humbled himself by serving his disciples and eating at the same table with the one who was to betray him. “And yet behold the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on table.” In spite of all these, he taught his disciples to humble themselves just as he humbled himself before Pilate and the chief priests even till death.
In all of these, the lesson for us today is that humility is very important in all circumstances of life. This includes both at good and bad times. Christ was strong, but he humbly became weak for our salvation. He taught us that true power lies in sacrifice and service. He also taught us that humility is one of the most important virtues we need for our service and mission.
During his triumphant entry Christ rode on a colt which symbolizes humility. In his suffering, Christ abandoned himself to his enemies without resistance or striking back. Let us therefore pray this Sunday that the Almighty God may grant us the humility with which to follow and serve Christ all the days of our life.
Peace be with you!