Lenten Reflections 2021: Sunday, March 28, 2021
“The Master has need of it.” Do you ever consider that the things you are doing are a part of God’s plan? Jesus gives instructions to this disciples that reinforce that the events of this week, the events of Holy Week, are not “accidental.” Rather, this is the plan for our salvation. The self-gift of Jesus’ suffering and death is a plan chosen by God for our salvation. Jesus freely enters these events of suffering and death because they are part of the plan for our salvation.
But it is not just in a high sense that God has plans. Because God knows what is best. God pours out grace to each of us to help. This plan is called “providence.” According to Catholic Culture, this is the definition. “God’s all-wise plan for the universe, and the carrying out of his plan by his loving rule or governance. the eternal world plan and its fulfillment in time are together called divine providence.” The knowledge of God is beyond all that we can know or understand. But God is generous. He pours out the knowledge we need to help us to understand what is best for us. God tries to put before us all that we need. This is his providence.
Jesus knows that if there are questions about the use of the donkey the answer “The Master has need of it” will work in the plan of God’s providence. While it may be easy to consider some events in our life as “coincidence”, if we look carefully through the eyes of faith, we can see things in a new and different way.
The goal is not to explain away every difficult thing, but rather to see that in every aspect of our lives God loves us, God cares for us. We are never left alone by God because God’s love for us is so powerful. There is never a moment when God is not seeking to guide and shape us into becoming the persons he has made us to be.
And it is the case that God can use both moments of great joy to shape us, moments of great pain, and moments of great ordinariness. God can use all moments. In matters of sadness, struggle and suffering, we have the example of the suffering of Jesus and his model of embracing the Father’s will in everything. In matters of great joy, we have the example of Jesus praising God the Father for all of his goodness.
The challenge, of course, is that we cannot always see as clearly the path God sets out for us. Even Jesus prayed the cup of suffering be taken from him. Our human minds are limited. We cannot see very far ahead of us. But God sees all. God can help us in every way to move toward the goal of the holy relationship he wants with each of us.
And so on this Palm Sunday we are challenged to remember. Maybe these are very difficult and dark days for you. Maybe you are mourning the loss of a loved one. Perhaps is it a spouse you have been married to for years and years, and you wonder how it is you will go on. Maybe you have just lost a job and you have no idea where your next job will come from. Maybe you are facing betrayal in a relationship, and in its end you are struggling to deal with the pain this has caused. Maybe your health is failing, or you are dealing with some terrible illness and disease. Perhaps you are worried about someone you love deeply who is going through a very difficult time. Whatever it is, what we celebrate during this week we call holy is the ultimate triumph of God.
In difficult times, we can be tempted to give up, because our limited minds cannot always grasp the infinite goodness of God. We can become so overwhelmed by very difficult suffering we cannot see the loving and supportive presence of God and others. We can, like Jesus on the cross, feel abandoned and forsaken.
But we need to do all we can to remember. So often when we read in the bible stories of people going astray in their faith, it is because they have forgotten. So often we see the ways in which people of faith are reminded. How often in the Old Testament is God identified as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob? Remember, we are told. Remember what God has done. The Jewish people are encouraged to have the verse Deuteronomy 6:8 on their wrists, foreheads and on the doorposts of their house. Remember. Do not forget what God has done for you. In Mark 5:19, when the possessed man who was freed from demons wishes to follow Jesus, he is told to help his family to remember what God, in his mercy, has done for him.
This week will remind each of us that Jesus has powerful love for us. But more than that, it is a reminder that God has a plan for us. It is a reminder that God can see all things clearly. That God can see far beyond anything we can see, and so is capable of leading us to happiness and fulfillment.