By Canon Gerry Conroy
I like Palm Sunday; I like it because it is the start of Holy Week and our celebrations of the death and Resurrection of Christ, but at the same time, in our liturgical celebrations it is a sombre day, not really a day of celebration. The Gospel we have just heard succeeds in capturing that contradiction for me. The Gospel, as we read it, seems to stop short, we stop with those words of Christ on the Cross and the affirmation of the centurion. Two things that seem at odds with one another. ‘My God, My God why have you deserted me?’ And ‘In truth this was a Son of God’. I wonder how such a cry of despair can sit together with a profession of faith, how can what he saw and heard have allowed someone to recognise another person as a good man let alone Son of God?
Our faith urges us to look forward to the resurrection as the end of the story, yet today we are brought to a halt at this contradiction. For so many people that contradiction is at times the reality of their faith: It is not the joy of the Resurrection they seem to experience, but the struggle of life that makes themsearch questioningly for the presence of God with them. Their life is closer to the despairing cry of Christ on the cross than to the jubilant cry that announces the resurrection. Yet it is still faith, as so many saints have given witness to, because their love endures through it.
On our journey through life we know the darkness that comes on the earth, the rending of the temple veil as God seems to flee from our lives and our world; it can be hard for us to see the resurrection light. But that light is there and in time it will shine more clearly. For the present, yes it can be a time of struggle for all of us: we go forward yet are dragged back at times by our own weakness and failures, seemingly abandoned to them and at the mercy of the ravages of life and the cruelty we find there. By what joys there are in life, we can be tempted to despairingly take refuge in them turning from the hope of the resurrection.
Our own Calvaries, when we share with Christ his cry to God, are those moments where we are caught in the clutches of despair yet are able in love, with the centurion, to make a profession of faith in God’s presence with us even in the darkest moments. That is when we hold on to the hope of the resurrection that will come. That too is faith.
Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton.
Resurrection Stories live Q & A session zoom meeting link go to the faith living Facebook page. You can find a link on the parish Facebook page.