Contemplation for Palm Sunday
In light of the gospel reading, Matthew 21
Most each and every one of us over the past week including myself, has woken up at least once at 2 or 3pm, with fear in our hearts, fear of sickness, fear ultimately of death. In this time, we seem to be forced to encounter our own mortality, the potential death of our loved ones, death moving through our community. Every little sore throat, sniffle, headache, we feel perhaps ‘is this it?’. Death has come close to each of our hearts.
And we try to push it away with verses and prayers, but the fear just seems to return. And not feeling afraid just means we are in denial, for this pandemic is meant to confront us with fear and death creeping into our hearts. It is like a caterpillar, creeping, eating away at our peace-of-mind, eating away at the fruit of our earthly calm.
And yet, the caterpillar is destined to be transmuted and take flight!
Our fears, the reality of death, like the caterpillar, are meant to be transformed and transmuted. We actually cannot get rid of these friends because they are not meant to leave. The task is to redeem them. We are called to welcome them into the cocoon of our hearts- to wrap them in divine thoughts and wait for their rebirth. For the presence of death is actually meant to be our friend, not our enemy. Death is actually meant to become a true companion, never leaving our side. This thought, this way of seeing and holding the presence of death as true companion, with practice, strengthens our sense of life. It gives every moment a new potency, deeper value. Death as companion then breaks free into our souls- the butterfly takes flight.
Jesus Christ, in our gospel today (Palm Sunday), entered Jerusalem with death as a companion. He knew His time had come, He welcomed death as a friend, His divine destiny.
And His only fear was that His body would not last until His divine mission was completed. And this fear that Jesus carried was Holy because it was connected to His sacred mission in the world- the fear of being able to do the will of The Father.
In this way, let us be reminded by Jesus entering Jerusalem of the value of holy fear, for it is a gift that cleanses our hearts of our small-minded selfishness. Normal fear focuses our attention on the loss of our earthly lives, our personal possessions and our selfish desires that we could lose. But if we can lift our gaze to what God is asking of us in this time, to what Christ is calling us to fulfill, however small, then our fear will gradually become the butterfly of devotion to the divine will, the power to sacrifice for the Good.
Dear Friends, the practice of redeeming death and fear means learning to live close to the threshold. We practice seeing what the angels see. Death and holy fear as companions gives our soul wings to move in the divine air all around us.
Contemplation by Rev. Jonah Evans