Part Two – Palm Sunday Noon Mass
Holy Week and The Paschal Mysteries: Put on the mind of Christ
Yesterday I focused on the ‘Passion of Christ’ as told us in the Gospel reading from Luke. To briefly recap, in the first part of the Palm Sunday Liturgy there is an atmosphere of joy as we listen to the reading from the Gospel recalling the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as King. He gets a rock star, tik tok influencer, Hollywood celebrity reception from the crowd. They acclaim him with words we are very familiar with, “Holy, holy, holy.” Yet, how quickly the tide did turn. Although many of those who were singing Hosanna had become disciples, their voices are deafeningly silent as the opposition and clamor for His death rose around them. Cowards, they remained hidden. Not unlike ourselves when in hard times and difficult days or even more sadly in merely tough moments, we lose faith.
As we listened to the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry, we are aware that there is also a shadow over the moment. Palm Sunday is both the celebration of the joy of recognizing who Jesus is, but also the sorrowful reminder of our fallenness and the price of our redemption. Not everyone who was there were spreading their clothes on the ground for Jesus to walk over or waving their branches. This moment has never ceased to end as human history unfolded to this day. The controversy that is Jesus Christ, Son of God, fully human and fully divine, incarnate of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin… rages on – in us. We like they; all too often do not have the ‘mind of Christ’.
Though we process through the church with palms in our hands singing “Christ conquers, Christ is king, Christ is our ruler” (Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat), we are mindful that to sing this as an authentic disciple of Christ is to sing, it must be with greater conviction about the greatness of Jesus and ever deeper realization of just why he is our King.
Today I want to focus on the second reading, which is key to our fruitful experience of Holy Week. It speaks of the “mind,” the thinking of Jesus, a “mind” which Paul urges us to also have if we want to identify fully with Jesus as disciples. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
The ‘mind of Christ’ is no more clearly evident than in the events of His passion where we also witness the heights of the manifestation of the evil in the hearts of men that seeks to secure a culture of death, the establishment of lies as truth, darkness as light and man as god. A society where the children of God rebel against the love, wisdom, truth, and beauty of the Father, and seize for themselves the power to create a new world in their own fallen image and likeness.
The key word in this key passage is “emptied.” This kenosis, or emptying, is at the heart of Jesus’ experience during his Passion. Despite Jesus’ identity as Son of God, he humbled himself and became man, “like us in all things, but sin”. But, even more, he reached down to the lowest level, the lowest class of human beings – the servant, the slave. And yet more, He allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, tortured, unjustly tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Not any “respectable” form of death, but the death of a convicted criminal in shame and nakedness and total abandonment.
To understand the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus one must fully grasp what Paul is saying here and not only grasp it, but totally appropriate it into one’s own thinking so that one would be prepared, with God’s help, to go exactly the same way. “Put on the mind of Christ”
Jesus seems to be the victim but all through he is, in fact, the master. Emptying himself and freely making himself subject to the cruelty of His creation, Jesus doesn’t seek vengeance or retribution by an Angelic Army, but rather he prays for them and seeking mercy and forgiveness, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus does not strike back – he never did. He does not accuse or blame – he never did. He begs his Father to forgive those who “do not know what they are doing.” He is master of the situation because he is master of himself. “Put on the mind of Christ”
As we celebrate the triumph and share in that victory, we must recall that when we were baptized, we became sharers in Christ's own mission. We became children of the King and soldiers of the Kingdom. We are called, therefore, to consciously carry Christ's victory into every city of the world, every community, every household, and every human heart. And we can only fulfill this mission by doing what Christ did on the first Palm Sunday, by laying our greatness in God, down. Called to become servants, slaves as it were. For the sake of the salvation of the whole world. We can extend his victory and his Kingdom by living the ordinary things of life with extraordinary love and faith. “Put on the mind of Christ”
Although sometimes the mark that we are living these realities as authentic Christians is barely perceptible to anyone except us and God, we must always strive in our daily responsibilities, our day-to-day relationships, our everyday troubles, and sufferings - to bring Christ into our world, where he so desperately wants to be. All we must do is live them with patience, with self-governance and generosity, with faith, with perseverance and fidelity, as Christ himself lived his daily life in Nazareth, and as he lived his Passion. “Put on the mind of Christ”
If we are to be his disciples, he invites us to walk his way, to share his sufferings, to imitate his attitudes, to “empty” ourselves, to live in service of others – in short, to love others as he loves us. This is a call to a life of deep freedom, peace, and happiness. Living with the ‘mind of Christ’ we are not the victim but like Him, in fact, we are master. We are masters of any situation because like Him we are masters of ourselves, because it is in Him that each of us lives, moves and has our being. “Put on the mind of Christ”
Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.