The Victory of Suffering

The Victory of Suffering

Palm Sunday

The celebration of Palm Sunday is quite simply about the victory of the cross, that is to say, the victory of redemptive suffering. That is the fundamental reason for which Christ Our Lord wanted to be greeted and honoured five days before His passion with shouts of joy by the Jewish people; it is why the Church unites the two aspects of passion and glory in this most exquisite Mass of Palm Sunday.

This week, called Holy Week, we are then admonished to turn our gaze towards Calvary, to compassionate our blessed Saviour as He saves the world. At the same time, it behooves to consider attentively the immense blessings that accrue to us by our own participation in the passion of Christ. Sufferings we all have, none of us can avoid them. Instinctively we all tend to flee suffering, to avoid anything that leads to it. Our faith teaches us, nevertheless, that our sufferings can have a profound meaning if we unite them with the passion of our Saviour.

In chapter 7 of the book of the Apocalypse, St John is given to see the immense crowd of witnesses clothed in white robes and with palms in their hands who sing the eternal glory of God. When he asks the angel who these people are, he hears these words: These are they who are come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Ap 7:14). Commenting on this scene, in the last months of her life, while she was undergoing atrocious sufferings herself from the illness that would lead to her death at 26 years of age, St Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote:

“Before contemplating ‘with uncovered face the glory of the Lord’, they have shared in the annihilation of His Christ; before being ‘transformed from brightness to brightness in the image of the divine Being’ (cf. 2 Cor 3:18), they have been conformed to the image of the Word Incarnate, the One crucified by love.”

And there you have a summary of Holy Week and of the entirety of the Christian life. It is only about being configured to the crucified One through love in order to be transfigured with Him in glory in the eternal kingdom.

Only faith, my dear friends, can persuade us of the truth of this statement, and that is precisely why the Lord Himself came to lead the way. That is why He gave us so many saints who, like elder brothers and sisters, teach us to follow the Lamb wherever He goes (cf. Ap 14:4). His path, we know it leads through the cross, but from there to the empty tomb and the resurrection.

Let us ask Him through Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, for the grace to follow Him at any cost, with hearts lifted up on high, oblivious to all that passes, assured of the reward that lies before us.