There is a lot going on in the Palm Sunday liturgy. It seems like we live all the events of Holy Week in about an hour’s time. The Mass begins with us receiving blessed palm branches, a symbol of victory and honor. We then celebrate the Opening Rites of the Mass, singing during the processional, rejoicing as we think about how Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the people rejoiced.
The scripture readings of the Mass change tone with the first reading from Isiah, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.” In the Psalms we hear, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” The Gospel reading is the Passion of Jesus.
While those things all happen on a natural realm, the Prayer over the Offering takes us to the spiritual realm.
Through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son, O Lord, may our reconciliation with you be near at hand, so that, though we do not merit it by our own deeds, yet by this sacrifice made once for all, we may feel already the effects of your mercy. Through Christ our Lord.
What caught my attention in this prayer is what would happen if we put each phrase on a set of scales, what God does and what we do, and I can tell you this, when we divvy up the sides, the scale will not be in balance.
Our reconciliation with God will be near to us through the Passion of Jesus. Our reconciliation is something we cannot do or create. The relationship with God was lost through the sin of Adam & Eve and humankind, from generation to generation, had no way to restore it.
What is interesting, however, is our reconciliation isn’t a thing or an action, it is a person. Our reconciliation with God is Jesus and he endured his Passion to restore communion between us and the Father.
We hear the phrase “at hand” often, the Kingdom is at hand, but how close is at hand? I believe it is closer than we think. When we are at prayer, we may think that Jesus is near by, across the room, or maybe next to us in the pew if we pray at church. What if Jesus is closer than that? What if Jesus is as close to us as our breath? After, all, he endured his Passion for us, it would seem that he wants to be very close and not let us go. He paid dearly for us.
The prayer next states that we do not merit this reconciliation by our own deeds. We can’t obey enough laws, we can’t do enough good deeds, we can’t earn salvation. It is all a gift, and the gift was purchased with the Blood of Jesus.
He made this sacrifice once for all. Romans 6:10 tells us, “As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God,” and so should we. (NABRE)
Already, in this life, we can feel the effects of his mercy, we can taste salvation. That is the “so that’ of the prayers, it is the dependent phrase. We have no way to gain access to God’s mercy on our own, we receive it through the reconciliation we receive from Jesus.
Back to the scale, on God’s side we have the Passion of Jesus, our reconciliation, His sacrifice and the effects of His mercy.
All we have on our scale is to accept his loving and supernatural gifts, and to love him back. How much love for Him will it take to make both sides of the scale balance?
Thanks for praying with me,