A Meditation for Palm Sunday 2010
"Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He STEADFASTLY set His face to go to Jerusalem..."
The Gospel portions that are read on Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday are from the Gospel of St. John. But today I turn to a scene in the Gospel according to St. Luke which occurred just a little earlier in our Lord's ministry. And in it I emphasize once again the words: "HE STEADFASTLY SET HIS FACE to go to Jerusalem."
A wise old archer was training two young warriors. Across the meadow was a small target hanging from a tree.
The first warrior took an arrow from his quiver, readied it in his bow, and took aim. The old archer asked him to describe everything he saw. "I see the sky, the clouds, the trees, and the leaves," he answered.
"Put down your bow," the old archer said. "You are not ready."
The second warrior stepped up and readied his bow with an arrow. The old man ordered him, "describe everything you see."
"There is only the target," the said second warrior.
"Then shoot!" was the command. The arrow flew straight and hit the target. "Very good," said the old archer. "When you see only the target, your aim will be true, and your arrows will fly according to your wish."
To focus our thinking does not come easily, but it is a skill that can be developed, a skill that is as valuable in life as in archery.
This is the manner in which our Lord approached His impending Passion. He had been teaching and preaching and healing for almost three full years, but now there came a turning point in His life and in His mission; St. Luke stressed, that - FROM THAT TIME FORWARD HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM!!! WHY? TO DIE ON THE CROSS in order to save us from our sins, to break down the middle wall of enmity between God and man, to heal all of mankind. From that time on, this was His focus, his aim; nothing would deter Him from seeing that this mission was accomplished. He was determined to bring this end to pass. Of course, as God, He knew what was to come -THE RIDICULE, THE REJECTION AND THE ISOLATION, THE MENTAL ANGUISH, THE CRUELEST PHYSICAL TORTURE, TORMENT, AND SUFFERING IMAGINABLE, A HIDEOUS AND SHAMEFUL DEATH, AND FINALLY, BURIAL IN A BORROWED TOMB. And still He did not shrink from His purpose; He did not waver in His resolve. He did not simply or accidently go up to Jerusalem. He steadfastly set His face toward it! The Greek word is even better translated "firmly." This is the attitude of our sweet Saviour, His mind-set, to do what He came to do!
Can you, can we, say the same in our spiritual lives? Are you firmly resolved to do what is expected, what is required of you? Do you have the same type of determination that the Christ had? What is your firm aim in life? Do you have a specific spiritual goal? It certainly ought to be that you desire to be a good, pious, devout, and dedicated disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, against all odds, in spite of all that the devil and this world may throw at you, all of the enticements and temptations, the needs and desires of yourself, your body, and your families. Christ Himself says to us, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
To do this, YOU MUST FIRMLY SET YOUR FACE TOWARD THAT GOAL, SHUTTING OUT ALL OF THOSE VIEWS AND SIGHTS BEYOND YOUR FOCUS. YOU MUST CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT!
And most especially now, as we begin the GREAT AND HOLY PASSION WEEK, do we need to focus on our spiritual goals. There is so much to see and to be a part of this week, to share in some small way in our Lord's suffering, and to demonstrate our gratitude for all that He has done. Eight days out of three hundred and sixty-five is not too much to ask. Two or three hours out of each day is so small. Christ the Lord has always been by our sides, guarding, protecting, guiding , caring, loving, and supporting us. Ought we not return the favor? We need to spend time with Him as He prepares for, and then endures, His sacred passion. After all, He is doing it for you and me. If we do not stand at His side, then we are no better than those who rejected Him back then, those who slapped Him, spat upon Him, crowned him with thorns, mocked Him, and nailed His hands and feet to the Cross. Let us not be like the majority of His disciples who fled from Him before, during, and after the Crucifixion. There is no longer any need for us to fear for our lives as they did. Our sins, however, will be of a different nature if we do not accompany Him this week; they will be the sins of indifference, negligence, and sometimes, simple laziness, which are just as devastating upon our souls. If we are truly His followers, then let us follow Him to the bitter end, as the Holy Apostle Thomas declared with great love and devotion, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him," and then steadfastly carry out our intention!
(Palm Sunday 2010)