The Paradox of the Cross

A reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH


The Palm Sunday Gospel is long and provides much to ponder.

Jesus begins with the Passover meal and goes on to speak of a betrayer in his midst. What do I do when I feel betrayed?

Jesus then listens to his disciples quarreling over who among them is the greatest. Jesus proclaims to the disciples that the one who serves is the greatest and calls Himself a servant. How does this call to service sit with me? Do I feel “above” this call of service? 

 Jesus withdraws to the Mount of Olives and prays for the strength to do the will of His Father. Then Jesus had to face the courts and undergo the Passion that was His destiny. Let us remember the injustice and suffering that Jesus would face.

On Calvary, it was a criminal who defended Jesus as He hung on the cross.  In a few words he proclaimed in faith, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised him the reward of paradise.  Before He died, Jesus uttered forgiveness and commended Himself to God.

The pain and agony of the cross did not prevent Jesus from reaching out in this profound action of love. Let us remember that Jesus’ actions on the Cross shows there is “No Greater Love.”




These Holy Days

A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

wi0821bi_4c1[1]Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.

When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do.  Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.

When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.”  For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.

Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts.   Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?

How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?

As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.

Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar?  With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?

What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life?  What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?

What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?

This Week with Jesus

A Reflection for Holy Week by Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

Holy Week is the most sacred time in the Church year.  It is the week in which we celebrate the paschal mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

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Each year, in the remote villages of Manzanita, the Mission Helpers work with the young people as they re-enact the Passion, beginning with the Hosannas of Palm Sunday.

Beginning with Palm Sunday and its exultant hosannas, it propels us into the very heart of God as it reveals a love that, in the celebration of a Passover meal, will give of its life and, its “Do this in remembrance of me,” makes itself available to all generations.

In this week, the mystery and paradox of life and death escalate to reveal the depths of darkness that can emanate from the human heart as the hosannas of Palm Sunday are replaced with equal intensity, in demanding cries of “Crucify him.” And yet, even as with bowed head Jesus gives up his spirit, a new life is born.  Jesus lives.

Jesus lives.  Even as we join Jesus in a profound remembering of his passion and death, the invitation is to walk with Jesus this week in a spirit of resurrection joy and hope.  Holy Week is best spent simply being at the side of Jesus as the past events of his last days are unfolded in rituals that make these events break through time and space and become a dynamic and vibrant present.

bread & goblet # 3As you join Jesus in this his 2014 reminiscing, stand by him as his heart is moved by the populace that greets him with branches of palms and hosannas.  Be with him in the supper room as he rises from washing the feet of his disciples.  Hear him as he reminds his disciples to follow his law of love.  See the hurt in his eyes at the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter and the cowardice of his disciples.

Listen to the joyful note of redemptive hope affirmed as he turns to the criminal on the cross and promises, “Today, you will be with me in paradise….”

cross 2If there are tears to be shed, may they be those saturated with the balm of gratitude.  The power of sin and death has been overcome.  Jesus lives.  The earth quakes, the dead rise, and through the ages the acclaim of the centurion echoes:  “Truly, this was the Son of God!”