Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (C)
Making an Airport of an Auditorium

Picture: cc Matthias Rhomberg

Sisters and brothers, do you know the difference between an auditorium and an airport? Of course you do! An auditorium is usually a destination in itself. We go there to attend a function, or to listen to a talk, or to watch a performance. And then we leave. In contrast, an airport is not really meant to be a a final destination, a place of rest, but a point of transit. We go there in order to allow ourselves to be transported somewhere else.

And yet, we also know that it is sometimes possible for us to enter an auditorium and be transported in some way. For example, when we listen carefully, with open minds and hearts, to an inspiring speech, or a moving musical performance. Then, even though our bodies remain rooted in our seats, we may find our spirits somehow being lifted up high into the heavens. If the performance is good enough, if our attention is close enough, if our hearts are open enough, an auditorium can sometimes be transformed for us into an airport.

Can we not say the same about Jerusalem, the holy city where all the action is taking place in our readings today? Jerusalem. At one level, this seems to be the destination, the end-point, towards which Jesus has been travelling. He enters it on Palm Sunday, enjoying a king’s welcome. And he is driven out of it on Good Friday, bearing a criminal’s cross. Jerusalem. At first glance, this is nothing more than an auditorium, in which the ugly spectacle of the killing of an innocent man is performed for all to see. Jerusalem. For many, this was simply a destination like any other. A place to visit. And then to leave. An auditorium. This was what Jerusalem was for the chief priests and the scribes. Whose jealousy and self-righteousness led them to engineer a plan to have Jesus put to death. And for Pilate and Herod too. Whose apathy and moral cowardice were what enabled the plan to succeed. And also for the many disciples of Jesus. Who had welcomed him so enthusiastically on Palm Sunday. But then deserted him so shamefully on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. For all of these people, Jerusalem remained only an auditorium. A place to visit. And then to leave. Nothing more.

But, if our Mass readings are to be believed. Things were quite different for Jesus. For Jesus, Jerusalem was not so much a destination as a point of transit. For, as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading, it was as a result of Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem, that God raised him high and gave him a name that is above all other names. And this happened not unlike how an auditorium is sometimes transformed into an airport. It happened because Jesus listened attentively, open-heartedly, generously to the will of his Father. As the first and second readings tell us, Jesus listened like a disciple. And what he heard, he put into practice. For love of his Father and for us, he made no resistance. He emptied himself. Even to accepting death on a cross. This was how Jerusalem was transformed for him. Although it may appear to some like a final destination, Jerusalem was really a point of transit. It was here that Jesus was lifted up into the glory of God.

But that’s not all. The gospel draws our attention also to several other people who managed to benefit from the experience of Jesus. People who found themselves transported in some way. The repentant criminal, for example. Whose humility won him an eternal reward. Indeed, I promise you, Jesus tells him, today you will be with me in paradise. Or the centurion at the foot of the cross. After seeing how Jesus dies, this soldier is able to praise God saying, This was a great and good man. Or the people who had gathered for the spectacle. So affected were they that they went home beating their breasts. Unlike the Jewish and Roman authorities, whose hardened hearts kept them transfixed in their own prejudice and sin, these other people found themselves transported into a new experience of God’s mercy and compassion. For them, Jerusalem was no longer just an auditorium, but an airport. A point of departure into God’s loving embrace.

How did this happen to them, sisters and brothers, if not through their willingness to watch and to listen, with attentive ears, and open hearts, and generous hands? And if this is true of these people in the gospel, surely it can be true too of us. Today, as we begin this most solemn and sacred of weeks in the Church’s calendar, it is too easy for us simply to go through the motions. To enter and to exit Holy Week as we would any other destination. And yet it doesn’t have to be this way. In the course of this week, it is also possible for us to be transported in some way. If we allow ourselves to pay careful attention to all that Jesus is saying and doing. To all that he is allowing others to do to him. If we watch and pray and accompany our Lord as he goes to his Passion. Surely, Holy Week will be transformed for us from a mere place of rest into a true point of departure. A place where we will find ourselves lifted up, as Jesus was, into the loving arms of God.

Sisters and brothers, how may we better allow the Lord to transform our auditorium into an airport today?


  1. Recently, I was at the Esplanade Theatre watching "Coppelia".

    Indeed, I was so captivated by what I saw and i was transported into the very performance! I was fascinated at the graceful ways of the ballerinas and I could not take my eyes off the lead ballerina as she continued to twirl herself around, standing only on one leg - like a flamingo!

    As the show went on, I felt as if I was Coppelia!

    yes, when we open our hearts to God, when we walk with Christ and ACCOMPANY HIM into the Paschal Mystery this week - I believe God will transport us from where we are into HIS destination, into His Dream and Plan for us!

    May I/we dare to trust God and let HIM lead us over and beyond our current location(s) into His destination - just like a scene in Mary Poppins where the children and her jumped and "entered into" a picture on display at the park, incredible though this may sound!

    yes, if we dare to place all our trust in God, I believe God will bring us to ENTER INTO HIS MYSTERY and experience Him ANEW!

    Like St Paul, I shall make this prayer my own : "All I want is to KNOW CHRIST, and the POWER of HIS RESURRECTION." (Philippians 3: 10)

    May the Lord grant us His Peace.

  2. As the Psalmist sang in 119:45-48
    "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees."

    If we strongly desire the Truth, the Way and the Life, we should place our trust deeply in Jesus Christ, as mentioned in John 14:6, "... No one comes to the Father except through me." Trust in HIm that He will set us free, He will give us that Spirit Wings that is full of strength to hold our weight. The cage mentioned below was like an auditorium, holding us in captive. If we can open our hearts to let His love released us, infiltrate into our heart, mind and soul, then, the Lord will be able to transform this auditorium into an airport, ready for us to take flight on the spirit wings.

    Some birds live in cages,
    They sing a quiet song
    And like them I could sing for only You.

    But, Lord, Your love released me
    To sing a different song
    And soar above the captive life I knew

    Spirit Wings, You lift me over all the earthbound things
    And like a bird my heart is flying free
    I'm soaring on the song Your spirit brings
    O Lord of all You let me see
    A vision of Your majesty
    You lift me up, You carry me on Your spirit wings

    When my life confines me, I just look to You
    And soon my heart is soaring high above
    Troubles look much smaller from Your point of view
    Lifted up on spirit wings of love

    1. Yes, by His Resurrection, the Lord has set us free and we are made to FLY on God's Spirit Wings..

      yet often I am so caught up in my pains and preoccupations that i fail to open my heart to God and to see His LIGHT.

      During these days of the sacred Paschal Triduum may I dare to let go INTO God and just SURRENDER into His LOVING EMBRACE.

      May I have the grace, O Risen Lord and Saviour, to fly into Your Loving Arms and Embrace and dwell in You, the God of Love and of Life.

      Pax Christi

    2. This song by Hillsong as a simple but deep meaning to me.

      "Hide me now
      Under Your wings
      Cover me
      Within Your mighty hand

      When the oceans rise and thunders roar
      I will soar with You above the storm
      Father you are King over the flood
      I will be still, know You are God"

      The Psalmist wrote in 46:
      "Be STILL and know that I am God"
      God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
      Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
      and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
      though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.

      Peace be with you.


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