Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday: The Triumph of Humility

Catholic scholar Marcellino D'Ambrosio delves deep into the mystery of Christ's passion and how our Lord triumphed over violence and humiliation through love and humility. Good reading for Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. . .

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble. And his earthly end would be no different. The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross. 

From beginning to end, the details are humiliating. No room in the inn. Born amidst the stench of a stable. Hunted by Herod’s henchmen. Growing up in a far-flung province of the Roman Empire--Galilee, the land where the country accent is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. How it that the high priest’s servant-girl knew Peter was a disciple of Jesus? His hillbilly accent gave him away (Matthew 26:73). Jesus disciples were not cultured, learned men of ability. They were drawn from the low-life of a backwater region…

When one of his closest companions offered to betray him, he did not require millions. Jesus’ worth was reckoned to be no more than the Old Testament “book value” for a slave--thirty pieces of silver. When he was finally handed over to the Romans, he was not given the punishment meted out to Roman citizens. Beheading was the quick, dignified way to execute someone of any standing. Instead Jesus was given punishments reserved only for slaves and rebellious members of subjugated peoples – flagellation and crucifixion. These two penalties were not just about the pain, but about the humiliation. In first century Palestine, men and women typically covered themselves from head to toe, even in the scorching heat. A crucified man was stripped naked and put on display for all to see.

But this is not primary a story of violence and humiliation. The events of Holy Week are much more about love and humility.