At the start of Lent, some people made a commitment to make a personal fast from sweets, rice, or social media. Now that Lent is almost over, how faithful have you been to your commitment? Or if you didn’t make one, how deeply have you entered into the penitential season of Lent?
Today is the fifth and last Sunday of Lent, also called Palm Sunday. It’s also the start of Holy Week. We will wave palm branches, like the crowd did when they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Siguro iniisip nila, “This is it. Ito na yung hari natin, yung Messiah na pinangako ng mga propeta. Mapaptalsik na sa wakas yung mga mananakop na Romano.” So they lay down their cloaks before Jesus and wave palm branches, which are symbols of joy and victory. They welcome him as a triumphant, political king and Messiah.
But instead of an imposing war horse, Jesus comes in riding on a humble donkey. He is not here for war, but peace. Totoo naman na siya ay hari at Mesiyas, pero ibang klase, hindi gaya ng exceptations natin. Hindi ba minsan ineexpect natin na pag may inaapi, dapat ginagawan kaagad ng paraan ng Diyos? Diba makapangyarihan naman siya? Why doesn’t he just make all the bad people go away?
Well for one, if he did that wala na sigurong matitira sa’tin. If Jesus did not come for peace but to exact justice, none of us would be here anymore. We know how sinful and broken we are. We don’t have to dig very deep to unearth our sins, to see our own dysfunction. Jesus took all that sin and dysfunction upon himself, and it killed him. We are responsible for the death of Jesus. The Messiah did come, but we betrayed him, and we killed him.
Sakit no? But how does Jesus treat his betrayers? In the long narrative of the Passion for this Sunday, we hear of Peter giving his commitment to Jesus. He says he will go to prison for Jesus, and even die for him. But Jesus prophesies that Peter will betray him three times before the cock crows. Fast forward to after Jesus is arrested. He is severely maltreated by those handling him. And when Peter is asked three times whether he knows Jesus, he denies him three times. He betrays his good friend and Master. And when the cock crows, Jesus, who was probably bruised and bloody at that point, looks at Peter. Imagine the pain in Jesus' eyes, the pain of betrayal by his close friend. Peter sees Jesus, and he weeps bitterly.
Dear friends, Jesus does not condemn Peter. Those were eyes of pain, yes, but also eyes of mercy. Kahit na duguan na si Hesus, wala pa ring ibang laman ang puso niya kundi awa at pagpapatawad. Kahit na mamatay na siya, yung repentant thief pinatawad niya pa rin. Jesus is committed to loving us no matter what.
So, dear friends, how committed are you to following Jesus? This Holy Week, no matter how much we have sinned and betrayed Jesus, let us be confident that he looks upon us with mercy. He has committed to forgive and save us. For our part let us commit to follow him to Jerusalem, to the cross, and to his resurrection.