”That’s life...that’s what people say. Flyin’ high in April....shot down in May.” ~ Frank Sinatra
Fans of the legendary jamband The Grateful Dead would be quick to tell you that among the group’s many talents, there were few who were more adept at the art of the segue, that uncanny and sublime knack for neatly and effortlessly moving from one song to the next ~ and oftentimes even back to the first song ~ without interruption. One moment they could for instance be noodling on the back-end of a classic fan favorite such as Scarlet Begonias and then suddenly, after a meandering and almost certainly very long guitar solo, emerge rather squarely in the throes of the familiar opening tones of Fire on the Mountain. This “Scarlet—>Fire“ segue, as it would often appear scribbled on the back of the cassette labels of those such as yours truly who swapped ‘Dead bootlegs back when cassettes actually existed, always comes to mind whenever I read the extended Palm Sunday Passion discourse, this year chosen from the Gospel of Mark (14:1-15;47). Although this particular segue is rather incongruous and strikes a tragically sour note.
For it is on this day that we first look in on Jesus, as read in the preamble Gospel text (Mark 11:1-10) prior to the opening procession, as he victoriously enters Jerusalem to a serenade of cheers, palm fronds laid at his feet. But as we soon find out, the powers-that-be, as foreshadowed in yesterday’s Gospel (John 11:45-56), Jesus’ earthly fate had already been sealed. Death on a tree in the most brutal, painful, agonizing and public way possible. We will of course reflect upon this see at the tail-end of the week during the Easter Triduum, this uniquely divine “three day day” wherein the cornerstone of our Salvation Story unfolds. . . quickly.
In this respect, the Passion of Jesus Christ is a micocosm of life. This seemingly endless pandemic has certainly made that crystal clear, wherein we’ve seen otherwise prosperous small businesses mowed down and quickly reduced to insolvency as the result of the lockdown measures put in place. Lives too more importantly have ended in swift and tragic fashion as a result of this scourge, as virtually everyone knows or knows of an otherwise young and healthy individual abruptly passing away as a result of an extremely adverse response to this unpredictable virus.
It’s been said that in life, the only constant is change. . . but I disagree. For as we reflect upon today’s Gospel Passage, we are reminded that through it all, Jesus too is a constant; As his friends sold him out and fled, as weak-kneed and corrupt rulers handed him over, he remains forever resolute, unshakable in his devotion, loyalty and love for God the Father. Jesus remains Jesus.
In this respect, we too can and should seek to emulate Jesus. Blessings will indeed enter our lives but like everything else, they are oftentimes fleeting. Troubles and hardships too will come...and they will pass. With regard to the latter, I’m always reminded of the words of Winston Churchill, who once quipped “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” In the Heavenly Kingdom, our troubles, even the very worst of them, will immediately be relegated to a memory that we look back upon with laughter. Provided we even remember them at all.
But in the meantime, we have a decision to make as it pertains to the way we approach our lives, this journey home to the Father’s House.
Does your life and how you live it proclaim “Hosanna!” or “Crucify Him!”?