By Jemma Redman
On this final Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, there is much to reflect upon.
Today’s gospel (Mt 26:14–27:66) falls on the heels of Jesus having returned to Jerusalem, making a triumphant entry, to lavish praise of the townspeople, who threw their clothes and palms in front of Him, as a sign of homage.
This experience reminds us all of the fickle and tenuous nature of life, that one day you could experience such joy, abundance, love, you are on top of the world, as we say and suddenly out of nowhere, your life takes a turn for the worse, and we are thrown into darkness and despair.
Have you ever received a beautiful gift from a friend, or someone throws you a surprise birthday party, and you have a beautiful relationship, but months later, for no apparent reason, they turn on you. Betrayal! Like Judas in today’s gospel, he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Imagine that! A close friend, a disciple, turned on His teacher for money!
Four days after His triumphant return, He is now treated as a criminal, tortured, mocked, and arrested! Denied and abandoned by His closest and dearest.
How many ‘Judases’ have we experienced in our lives to cause some of our darkest moments, where we have been wrongfully accused, lied upon, maligned, for having done absolutely nothing to deserve it.
Those are our testing times, a time of emptying, of pruning, of refining. It is those 40 days of Lent, where we retreated, fasted, denied ourselves, spent time in prayer, confessing our sins which manifest in our lives, to make us better people, humbler, holier, stronger, and closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is important in our spiritual growth, to meditate on His suffering, beautifully outlined in this great text today, of having struggled deep within Himself, through the injustice and the aloneness, when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, having to depend solely on God to take Him through.
When we are in those valley moments, we too feel like Jesus, when He cried: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”. But praise God, we are reminded that even though we go through the valley of the shadow of death, whatever death it may be, we fear no evil, for He is with us, His rod and staff they comfort and strengthen us.
It is through these tough times, that we really come to know our Saviour and trust in our God, and grow to become more like Him, that we can say, that I am in my Father and my Father is in me. It is why He is the author and finisher of our faith, because He did it, He went through it, He is the Way.
Today in this awesome documentation of the price He paid for us, we now look forward with joy to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, and remember that He has told us in John 16:33, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Amen.
Jemma Redman is founder of Spirit Global, a spiritual support non-governmental organisation called ‘to walk with men and women’. She is the Artistic Director of The Drama Ministry for the Southern Vicariate, and for St Mary Magdalene RC Church, Houston, Texas.