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From the Paschal to the synodal

By Fr Donald Chambers

Palm Sunday marks the end of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem together with His disciples, and the beginning of His Paschal journey – suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Entering Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples participate in the events of His life, and these events will not only have a lasting impact, but they will inspire the disciples’ personal conversion.

With Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the disciples witness the significance of Jesus’ kingship – a servant leader who comes to serve.

In John’s account of the celebration of the Passover Meal, Jesus demonstrates His servant leadership by washing the feet of the disciples and invites the disciples to do the same.

In His Passion, Jesus takes up the cross and journeys to Calvary where He is devoured by the abyss of human finiteness and cruelty. However, on Easter Sunday, the Church celebrates Jesus’ rise to new life and victory over death.

As active participants in Jesus’ journey, the disciples come face to face with the rawness of human living and relationship – betrayal, accusations, threats, violence, conflicts, and murder, but Jesus responds in compassion, empathy, and mercy.

Jesus’ Paschal journey reflects His abandonment of the comfort zone of ‘saving Himself’. Instead, He de-centres and moves to the periphery to encounter and accompany persons on the edge, such as the thief on the cross.

Jesus’ Paschal journey is the Church’s synodal journey. Jesus invites the Church to commune and participate in His Paschal journey as a means of shaping the Church’s mission.

The Paschal celebration invites the Church to personal conversion as a prerequisite for pastoral conversion, that is, a new way of being Church today. During the Holy Week and Easter liturgies, we enter into communion and participation with Jesus so that we rise with Him to new life to continue the mission of the synodal journey.