One of the great joys of studying and working at the Faculty of Theology is the opportunity to share our faith, whether it’s during our weekly liturgies, class discussions, impromptu chats springing up in the student lounge or at one of our social events.
As part of our collective Lenten journey, we are sharing seasonal reflections written by students and Faculty as a way to include the broader community in the life of the Faculty. Our Palm Sunday reflection is written by Sister Mary Angela Alexander, RSM, who has been a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, since 1998. Prior to entering religious life she received a B.A. in Theology from the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is now studying for the MA in Theology through St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, focusing on a the theology of mercy in a collection of anonymous late medieval sermons.
Psalm 22.7-8, 16-17, 18-19, 22-23
Imagine what it might have been like that day, with your household, your neighbourhood, all of the city, stirred by the arrival of this man. Who was it? A rabbi. No, a miracle-worker. No, it is a mistake, he is a common labourer. The rumours must have flown from street to street. He was definitely identified: Jesus, the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.
Whatever they thought they were doing, whatever were their thoughts about who Jesus was, the fact is that they welcomed God into their city.
We, too, can and should be shaken by the events of that day, and by our reliving of them during this Holy Week. Those who are accustomed to pray with an imaginative reconstruction of the scene from the Gospel may place themselves in the rejoicing crowd, and be renewed in their love for Christ, whom we know as Lord and Saviour.
But we are well aware of the whole story. The exultant welcome in Jerusalem was followed by a reversal of feeling and action: disappointment, anger, betrayal, abandonment, violence. We are aware of our own, real relationship with Christ — how many times we have welcomed him with joy in a moment of fervor, only to abandon him again in a time of fear, or, worse, a time of personal dullness.
Holy Week can be filled with strong sentiments of attraction and gratitude, shame and sorrow. The liturgies of this week provide time, place and material to reflect and re-live the deepest moments of our journey with Christ. The fact that we will fail again should not deter us from welcoming our Lord again and again, every time we begin our prayer, to come to our hearts with his gentle might. He did not come to keep us from failing in our human endeavours. He came to save us, and this includes, in part, showing us how to see ourselves in him. He makes us capable of his love, in spite of our poverty. Our neediness is an open door to divine love.
May we all embrace and be renewed by the tensions and graces of this Holy Week.