MARCH 24, 2024 GOSPEL REFLECTION

Today is Palm Sunday. Today Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Although this seems like a joyous entry, Our Lord’s Passion and Crucifixion are soon to follow. Darkness is coming.

Although the townspeople may celebrate Jesus on a donkey, Christians contemplate Jesus on the Cross. And, in Jesus, even the Cross becomes a reason for our joy. Indeed, Christ’s suffering and death are the instruments of our eternal happiness—our salvation. Out of infinite love for us, Jesus gave himself up to death, even death on a Cross. And it is impossible to think of Jesus and the salvation that he gives to us without also thinking about his Cross.

Initially, the union of Jesus and the Cross in the minds of Christians may appear to be quite peculiar. The Cross is a grotesque thing. It is an instrument of torture—death, destruction. How is it that Jesus—the Holy One of God—is so closely associated with such a vile thing?

Like Our Lord himself, the Cross is the supreme object of faith. Only faith—the theological virtue in which we give our minds and wills to God (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 143)—is able to perceive the Cross not as it is in itself (death and destruction) but as it is in Jesus (our salvation!)

The motive of Our Lord’s Incarnation was “us men and our salvation.” The Eternal Son of God became man in order to save us. Consequently, everything—all of us: the good, the bad, our consolation, our suffering, our virtue and our vice—all of us is salvifically understandable only in relation to Jesus. Jesus shows that he makes all things new. Even the worst of things. Even the worst parts of us. This is the power of the Cross—what the Cross is in Jesus

And this is why the intellect’s theological virtue, faith, is so important. Faith enables us to see all things in relation to Jesus.

The intellect is the power of the soul that understands being and relations. The will is ordered to goodness in general—good things whether they be “spiritual goods” or “sensible goods.” The sense appetites (i.e., the emotions) are activated only by sensible, tangible goods (e.g., food, drink, physical beauty).

Only the intellect can in itself understand things in relation to other things. The theological virtue of faith, then, enables us to see the relation of the Cross to Our Lord—and our relation to the Crucified Lord.

Without the theological virtue of faith, the Cross is only intelligible as it is in itself: an instrument of torture, execution, death, destruction. With the gift of faith, however, the Cross takes on a precious meaning: it is the instrument by which Our Lord saves us, it is the reason why he became man, it is the means through which we find a new identity in Jesus.

In faith, we do not see anything—neither the Cross, nor the reason for the Cross: our brokenness and our sin—apart from Jesus. The Cross invites us to live by faith. And to live by faith means to see all things in relation to Jesus.

Faith enables us to recognize the most precious of all truths: Jesus makes all things new… even the Cross… even ourselves.

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CATECHESIS

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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