Communication--Commitment--Compassion. Those are the keys to better families--whether it is the family in the home, or the family which is the Church, or the entire human family. God wants His people to live in community. So He gave us the ability to communicate with one another, to commit ourselves to one another, to “feel with” one another. We are thankful, blessed, and humbled when we have hope in our families: hope that comes from the guidance and wisdom of a loving God; hope that comes from a courageous, selfless faith; hope that comes from the unity of the Holy Spirit. It is only this power that draws us together and makes us a powerful witness of God’s presence in this world.
The disciples of Jesus had third-class tickets. They were the ones who were charged with the responsibility of telling others the Good News of Christ. There will come a time when Christ will rule over all. There will come a time when, as St. Paul wrote, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). In the meantime let us look outward, let us look upward, and let us look forward.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . . it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness . . .” A Tale of Two Cities. In which of those cities do you live? Which city claims your primary allegiance? Where are you investing your time, your talent, your treasure--the city of man or the city of God?
A good mother is such a powerful example of God’s love. Many mothers are willing to do almost anything to communicate their love to their children. God offers us in the image of the Cross a glimpse of His love. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God left us in His Cross a powerful symbol of comfort: you will be all right and I will come back for you. There are times when we need to be reminded of that promise. Through Jesus Christ, God offers us love and comfort now and unshakeable hope for the future.
When Jesus was born, a host of angels announced it and sang his praises. But the only ones who heard it were a few poor shepherds working the night shift. When Jesus rose from the dead, only two angels showed up to announce it, and they told it to a handful of grieving women. Only a few will accept the message of Jesus. Only a few will experience the reality of the resurrection. And only a few will leave Church and go tell everyone they know, “Jesus is alive!” Will you be one of them?
One of the most heart wrenching cries of the crucified Jesus is not recorded in the Passion according to St. John that we have just heard, but is in the Passion narratives according to Matthew and Mark. It is the first verse of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What shocking words from the dying lips of God’s own Son! Jesus’ cry is the prayer of a persecuted, innocent man, torn by affliction, yet trusting still in God His Father as His consolation and hope. For Jesus, and because of Him, for us and for the world, the cry of agony will give way to the Resurrection hymn of thanks and praise.
Foot washing was needed after a long journey but, in Peter’s mind and in the “wisdom of the day,” it was not to be done by the Master; it was the work of slaves or servants. Still, Jesus insisted, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Gathered with His disciples in an Upper Room, “He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end.” Jesus did this by means of two sacred actions: by washing the feet of His disciples and then giving them His own Body and Blood. These two actions are woven together in the life of Jesus; and they can and should be woven together in our lives.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” Obviously the Pharisees are offended by this little celebration. “I tell you,” Jesus replies, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” That’s quite a vivid image, isn’t it--stones crying out. Could an inert piece of stone on the ground cry out its adoration of Christ? And, if the stones on the ground had cried out, what do you think would have been their message on that first Palm Sunday? Let’s use our Catholic imagination for a few moments. What would be the message of those stones on that first Palm Sunday if they had cried out words of praise?
Today's gospel is the family story of a man and his two sons. At the beginning of the story we see that the younger son is the bad boy and the elder son the good boy. But by the end of the story we see that both of them in different ways prove themselves to be obstacles to the family unity and harmony which the father desired more than anything. We are all sinners. Whether your sins are more visible like those of the younger son or more hidden like those of the elder son, the message for us today is that we all need to repent and return to the father's house.