Fr. René Butler MS - Palm Sunday - Voluntary Humiliation

Voluntary Humiliation

(Palm Sunday: Mark 11:1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14–15)

Jesus anticipated the acclamation of the admiring crowd. He even arranged for a mount so as to be more visible. The people were thrilled to welcome him as their leader, their hero.

Jesus accepted it all.

He also anticipated Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, his disciples fleeing, the mockery of his enemies, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant in today’s Old Testament reading: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”

Jesus accepted it all.

Weakness in a hero has always been despised, so it is not surprising that the adulation of the crowd turned to calls for Jesus’ death. His disgrace was such that they chose a new hero, “a man called Barabbas, then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.”

What they did not and could not know was that all this humiliation was voluntary. St. Paul writes that Christ Jesus emptied himself and humbled himself, trading his “form” of God for that of a slave, out of obedience, as the Gospel makes clear, to the will of his Father.

“Because of this,” he adds, “God greatly exalted him... that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

For this we need a “well-trained tongue,” like Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. We are not talking here about the gift of eloquence, but the ability to “speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” That should come naturally to us as La Salettes, if we adopt the attitude of the Beautiful Lady.

Even if the expression of our faith meets with rejection, we have the same confidence as God’s Servant, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced, ... knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

Would we have joined the crowd in calling for Jesus’ death? Who can say? The more important question, however, is whether today we are prepared to follow his example of humility and obedience.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

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