APRIL 2003
PALM SUNDAY & HOLY WEEK
vol 14, no. 19

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The Suffering Servant of the Lord

Rather than praising the fleeting accomplishments and follies of man, we should prostrate ourselves on our knees in total fidelity to Christ the Redeemer King.

"...immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire and covetousness (which is a form of idol worship). Because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the unbelievers, and you yourselves once walked in them when they were your life. But now do you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, abusive language and foul-mouthed utterances. Do not lie to one another. Strip off the old man with his deeds and put on the new, one that is being renewed unto perfect knowledge 'according to the image of his Creator'"

Col. 3: 5-10

    Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for Palm Sunday, he shows the analogy of the very situation today to the Epistle and Gospel for Palm Sunday. There are great cheers and hosannas for the Anglo Coalition Forces (mostly American troops) who have "liberated" Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. But have they truly liberated them? As we know, to discard the Gift of Fear of the Lord and Humility, and obstinately proffer that man has the better idea - such as the proud and haughty mentality of the American mindset - only plays into the devil's agenda. The evils of Saddam destroyed the body, but could the evils of the seven deadly sins, which are attached as prerequisites for freedom for the Iraqi people, be far worse? (cf. Matthew 10: 28 and 16: 24-27, Mk 8: 36-37). According to Christ's teaching and Church doctrine that is a definite 'yes,' and yet, in our patriotic fervor we get caught up in the emotion and shout 'hosanna' to these earthly rulers who disdain suffering and refuse to heed God's warnings, washing their hands of such 'nonsense' just as Pilate passed off his responsibility. While the outlook for true peace is not promising, it would have been fateful for all generations had it not been for The Suffering Servant of the Lord.

    Note: For the Palm Sunday Procession Liturgy, see Blessing of the Palms
    For Palm Sunday Proper for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, see Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for PALM SUNDAY
    For the Gospel of the Passion according to Saint Matthew, see Gospel Passion Reading for Palm Sunday

    Jesus Christ is our King, yet our supreme example of humility and Fear of the Lord. He appears today as our King, but He wears a crown of thorns. He is the most beautiful among the sons of men, yet He is mocked and scourged and spat upon. He commands the hosts of heaven, yet He is led away bound, to be crucified - Jesus, our true Messiah and Liberator.

    As Jesus rides into Jerusalem to the hosannas of the crowd, He knows that their desire to make Him their King is motivated by expectations of earthly glory. As King, they expect, He would throw off the yoke of the Romans and restore Israel to the glory it enjoyed under David and Solomon. And so they shout, "Blessed is he who comes as king, in the name of the Lord" (Lk.19:38). Jesus accepts their hosannas, for He is truly their King, but He must refuse an earthly crown, for His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn.18:36). Before receiving His Kingdom from the Father, He must go the way of humility, that of the Suffering Servant of the Lord.

    "Who hath believed our report?" says Isaiah, speaking prophetically of the Christ, "And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? And He shall grow up as a tender plant before Him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground. There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightlines, that we should be desirous of Him: Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity: and His look was as it were hidden and despised. Whereupon we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted; But He was wounded for our iniquities: He was bruised for our sins. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and by His bruises we are healed" (Is.53:1-5).

    It may seem odd to speak here of "Fear of the Lord," since Jesus Himself is Lord. But Holy Fear is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which Jesus possessed in His human nature in their fullness, since the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Him at His Baptism, strengthening Him for His mission. Jesus applies to Himself the words of the Prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me: to bring good news to the poor He has sent Me, to proclaim to the captives release, and sight to the blind; to set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense" (Lk.4:18,19).

    Christ expressed the gift of Holy Fear in His reverence for the Father, especially in obedience to the Father's will. As He said to the Jews who opposed Him: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that of Myself I do nothing: but that I preach only what the Father has taught Me. And He Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, because I do always the things that are pleasing to Him" (Jn.8:28,29).

    Where can we look to find such evidence of humility and Fear of the Lord today, even among those who call themselves Christians? Like the Israelites who apostatized and adored the golden calf in obscene revelries at the foot of Mt. Sinai, many Christians have abandoned the true way and taken to themselves the false gods of pleasure, wealth and power. Their religion is a fašade that will soon be torn away by a dose of reality. God's judgment is near.

    As we witness the coalition of military forces, would-be messengers of freedom, coast to a seemingly quick victory in Iraq, we are faced, like Jesus, with a grave temptation. For Him there was no hesitation - He would refuse an earthly crown and the glory of an earthly empire won by "shock and awe" tactics at the expense of innocent lives. But this is the freedom the "coalition" brings to Iraq-freedom as the world understands it. They have chosen the way of pride and arrogance over humility and Fear of the Lord, confident that they can remove the speck from the eyes of others, unaware of the beam in their own. They are not missionaries of true spiritual freedom, but of the freedom of sin. By this freedom the devil is unleashed, disguised as an angel of light. The oppressed will now be free to choose their poison: contraception, abortion, pornography, movies and TV programs that mock God's Commandments, books and games that introduce their children to the dangers of occult knowledge, the right to choose any religion, or none. Freedom - to be just like us.

    True freedom is in knowing Jesus Christ, Who has come "to set at liberty the oppressed." From this humble Servant of the Lord, may we yet learn the way of humility and Holy Fear, even if it must be through severe trial and suffering. "Take care that no one leads you astray," Jesus told His Apostles, "For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. For you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. Take care that you do not be alarmed, for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be pestilences and famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are the beginning of sorrows" (Mt.24:4-8). God save us from false prophets and Messiahs!

    "Therefore mortify your members, which are on earth," says St Paul, "immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire and covetousness (which is a form of idol worship). Because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the unbelievers, and you yourselves once walked in them when they were your life. But now do you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, abusive language and foul-mouthed utterances. Do not lie to one another. Strip off the old man with his deeds and put on the new, one that is being renewed unto perfect knowledge 'according to the image of his Creator'" (Col.3:5-10).

    "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though He was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Therefore God also has exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus is in the glory of God the Father" (Phil.2:5-11).

    All glory, praise and honor, to Thee, Redeemer King!

Father Louis J. Campbell


APRIL 2003
PALM SUNDAY and HOLY WEEK
vol 14, no. 19
"Qui legit, intelligat"
Father Louis Campbell's Sunday Sermons

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