Mt 26:14-27:66 – Palm Sunday, 20th March 2005

It is ironical that Jesus should approach into His passion and death – apparent failure of his life ministry – with the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It appears to be a contradiction. But, this is from our human point of view. From God’s eternal wisdom, this was to be His plan for our salvation. God’s triumph over evil is not the usual human way of victory through crushing our enemies. The Son of God’s victory was and is through His infinite love that embraces even His enemies and their sins – a contradiction from the human point of view.

Hence, the necessity of Palm Sunday. It is to tell us that triumph, announced on Palm Sunday, must go through passion and death to end in another kind of triumph – a greater and nobler victory – the resurrection which gives true life.

This was definitely different from the thoughts and desires of the Jews who hoped that the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem would be the beginning of the crushing of their enemies, the hated Roman colonizers. The Jews were waiting for a military-like messianic king. They were disappointed and understandably so.

In their disillusionment, their first enthusiastic shouts of triumph on Palm Sunday turned into their last angry scream of “crucify him, crucify him.”

In our lives, often when our hopes and expectations are shattered, we get angry and even allow hatred to rise up in our hearts. And this reaction could lead us to commit a crime – harming or, worse still, killing of a person who has disappointed us.

The story of the Son of God’s, so to say, “love-march” into His passion and death revolutionaries the wrong human values. Triumph is not to be gained through crushing our enemies, which we see and hear happening in so many places in the present world, including Malaysia, but through an all-embracing love of our enemies and even their sins so that Christ can transform them. Disappointment and disillusionment can become sources of grace for oneself and for others.

So, when we are down and out, ask the question: what is God teaching me? Jesus promised us that if we are open to listen to God’s voice, we will hear His message and if we have eyes to see, we will show see God’s saving plan for us. This is only if we look at and listen to God with eyes of faith filled with love. St. Augustine, one of the most famous Catholic theologians, said: “Love gives us eyes to see.”

Take the recent Tsunami disaster in Indonesia. It was a horrendous tragedy. No one can deny it. Yet, a tremendous good came out of it. Men and women of all races and nationalities, the rich and the poor, enemies and friends, and people of all religions joined hands to help the victims of Tsunami – the first incredible and beautiful phenomenon that I have seen in my 65 years of life. This is what God has done and teaches us: He has brought good out of evil and teaches us that we should abandon our prejudices and conflicts and put behind our differences to work together in solidarity for the good of humanity, for the good of all who suffer one way or other.

I conclude by repeating what I have said. God teaches us that real triumph is not from crushing our enemies but by embracing them with His all-inclusive love. With God, we can turn our disillusionment and disappointment into victory; but we must have eyes of love to see what God is really teaching us. He will give us triumph in HIS TIME AND IN HIS WAY.