Reflection for Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022 by Mary Lou Edgar.
I have always seen Palm Sunday as somewhat of a mixed bag.
We have the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem and people laying palms in the street and welcoming him. Then we have the story of the Passion beginning with the Last Supper and culminating with the Crucifixion. It is like a monumental roller coaster ride. This Holy Week will be very different for me and my family as our daughter has been very ill. Three weeks ago, we were told there was a chance she might not survive, and now – thanks to all our prayers and good doctors — she is healing slowly. We have come to understand roller coaster rides.
Honestly, it has only been in the last few years that observing Holy Week became important to me. For many years, I would see people being very reverent and it just didn’t compute for me. But I hung in there. As with so many things, I was distant; my false self was playing a role that was appropriate to the experience. I knew there was more to this than I was experiencing. The change in me began as I started to think seriously about the Eucharist. Struggling to understand this concept took me to the Last Supper and I was hooked. I continued until I got to the Resurrection. As I read the events of the life of Jesus from a more involved perspective – how he was betrayed, tortured, and ultimately crucified – I began to feel differently. Now each year when I listen to the stories of Holy Week, I find myself becoming overwhelmed.
Seeing Jesus as a human being who suffered all this for each of us was unsettling. Over a period of time, I began to think of Jesus doing this for me as well as for my entire family. With great humility, Jesus suffered and died for each of us. He died for people I didn’t like, he died for people I had judged to be inferior in some way, and he died for all those who did not have the advantages that I did. When he rose from the dead, he showed us – in a way we could understand – that death has no power over us. He showed us that love was what was needed and his love for us was incredibly evident during that entire week.
This year Holy Week is more important to me than ever.
When Lent began, I had all sorts of great ideas. Then, halfway through, my daughter became ill. Initially, I blamed myself. Even though she is an adult, I felt like I had control over this. One thing I have learned from my journey with Jesus is that I have no control. I would pray with her each day reminding her of how strong she is and asking God to give us the courage to accept His will. As days passed, I thought more and more about Holy Week. God watched His son suffer and die because He loved us. For the first time in my life, I felt a real connection to God. I thought about all the people that I have not had patience with and yet, they were loved. I thought of all those God loves and how our world is in such a precarious position. How hard that must be! We are His children and I know how I was feeling about my child.
What this did was give me great hope. Hope for my daughter to recover and also for there to be recovery in our world. I believe that the death of Jesus offers us hope because death cannot destroy what already belongs to God. All this does not make it easy for us to watch people to die in pointless wars, it does not make it easy for us to accept the negative things that happen in our lives. But because Jesus Christ came to Earth and lived like one of us, He gave us hope. Every year we have the opportunity to relive this experience and realize the gift we have been given. No matter what, this is a time for hope.
For you are my hope O Lord God, my confidence since I was young” Psalm 71:5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neuman University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.