Reflections for Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
The whole concept of sin is often rejected by the so-called “modern age” and is often misunderstood by those who follow Jesus … who claim to be his disciples.
Many reject the idea or the concept of sin as a throwback to an old age when everything was black and white, sin or not sin … when the Church ruled and was seen or understood (rightly or wrongly) to use sin to keep people in line.
Then after the Vatican II Council the (to use one of my favorite examples … that is just meant to highlight this point) the Church changed (altered) its discipline regarding “no meat on Fridays.”
So before Vatican II – it was a mortal sin (if done deliberately) to eat meat on Friday but after the Council (around the 70’s) the discipline was relaxed and you we were taught that you could substitute for another act of penance. The problem here is that a whole lot of disciplinary acts that we were required to do were thrown out or just not done anymore. And we wonder why – along with the dissing of the Sacrament of Penance – we have major problems in society and the Church? This is no claim that things were perfect or hunky-dory before the Council but in many ways things were better than now.
This whole (what I would term as a ‘mess’ or a time of profound confusion) has led many to not understand the nature of sin. It does exist – period. Chesterton said that Original Sin is the only teaching (dogma) of the Church that provides ample anecdotal evidence of its existence — just look around you and even within yourself and be honest about it!
The 70s produced this statement “I’m ok and your ok” which is partly true but also very deceptive because it would be truer to say: I’m not ok and your not ok but that is ok” MEANING that we are defective, we have a major fault line in our soul, our nature, and to ignore this or sugar-coat it is disastrous.
The Good News of Jesus Christ requires us to acknowledge our sinfulness — this doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up or think we are horrible (although we all know we can do horrible things!). No! It means we are born with what is tantamount to a spiritual disease – it is called “sin.”
Jesus Christ has come into this world to offer us an antidote to this noxious poison (this disease) that is within us and he communicates this medicine from the Cross through the Sacraments. It still requires that we struggle every single day we get out of bed – not assuming, no presuming anything. Everyday we start again. You take your vitamins every day or eat everyday and we need Jesus Christ everyday … and the sacraments from Baptism through to the Anointing of the Sick.
And so – one of the essential criteria benefitting in any way when it comes to Jesus Christ is acknowledging that I need to be saved. I’m not ok. This acknowledgement opens the heart to grace and Christ is just waiting for you and me and whoever reaches out to him so that he can come in to their lives. We cannot do this on our own but with him we can.
Today – tell the Lord you love him and that you need him. Don’t just tell him once but as often as you need to or want to. It is just the truth but is also a wonderful to cultivate presence of God.