Palm Sunday ~ The Humility of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday / March 24th, 2013

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   the drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come  with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden–himself burdened with the sins of the world.  He was focused on his Father’s will and utter obedience to him.  St. Paul captures all of that for us in the first reading of this day’s Mass in Philippians 2:1-11 . . .

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
7 but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
8   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.  (NRSV)

Father Johannes Metz wrote a little book in 1968 called Poverty of Spirit that I liked a lot in which he says, “To become human means to become ‘poor’ to have nothing that one can brag about before God.  To become human means to have no support and no power, save the enthusiasm and commitment of one’s own heart.”

Become poor? No power?  We Americans would not buy that at all!   But I was fortunate to have two wonderful mentors in my life who were ~ well ~ just human.  They were not afraid to be just who they were, warts and all.  They were delightful human beings.  

The first one was the rector of my seminary, Father Eugene Walsh whom I was privileged to know personally over the years.  We called him Geno.  I told a story about him in a recent blog about how he affirmed me.   The second was my Bishop,  Bishop Norbert Dorsey whom I got to know when we lived together in the cathedral rectory in Miami for nearly a year. We used to sit up and watch Hawaii Five-0 together.  He, too, was always just who he was, without pretense. Simply ~ human. He died a few weeks ago from a long bout with cancer but I had a chance to express my love for him. 

And now,we’ve all gotten to know a fellow from Argentina who has become Pope Francis who insists on being just who he is!  Isn’t wonderful?  But he will pay the price for it.  Several journalists took note of his down to earth qualities, his humility.

Now back to  Jesus.  He didn’t exploit his equality with God as so many of us would; he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. Why did he do that? 

Father Metz explains:  “Jesus held back nothing; he clung to nothing, and nothing served as a shield for him.

Satan wants to make Jesus strong . . . Satan fears [ . . .] an open human heart that will remain true to its native poverty, suffer the misery and abandonment that is humanity’s, and thus save humankind.

Satan always tries to stress the spiritual strength of human beings and our divine character and has done this from the beginning:  ‘You will be like God.’

Instead, Jesus subjected himself to our plight. He immersed himself in our misery and followed our road to the end.  He did not escape from the torment of our life. . .  With the full weight of his divinity he descended into the abyss of human existence, penetrating into its darkest depths.

Have we really understood the impoverishment that Christ endured?  Everything was taken from him during the passion, even the love that drove him to the cross. . . His heart gave out and a feeling of utter helplessness came over him.  Truly he emptied himself . . . . He became utterly poor.

[Thus] he accepted our humanity, he took on and endured our lot, he stepped down from his divinity.  He came to us where we really are ~ with all our broken dreams and lost hopes, with the meaning of existence slipping through our fingers.

He came and stood with us, struggling with his whole heart to have us say ‘yes’ to our innate poverty.

[God’s faithfulness] to us is what gives us the courage to be true to ourselves.

And the legacy of God’s total commitment to humankind, the proof of God’s fidelity to our poverty, is the Cross. [The Cross is the sacrament, the sign] that one human being remained true to his own humanity, that he accepted it in full obedience.”

Thus each of us have the opportunity to embrace our poverty,  to accept whatever brokenness shows up in our own lives and find the treasure buried within.

But this goes against the grain for us in American life.  We are told to keep up with the Joneses.  To strive for Power, Prestige, Possessions.

This is not the way of Jesus.

And this cannot be the way of a true follower of Christ.  We are to have the same mind as Christ. And once we have embraced our humility, our poverty, our weakness, and not denied our brokenness we will realize that we, too, will be exalted as Jesus was (is.)

(Realize that the word “Humility” comes from the word “Humus” ~ “muck.”)

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

singing Hosannas!

we listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down int the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”.  Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again later in the week.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer


Palm Sunday ~ The humility of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday / April 1, 2012

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.  The stage is set for the drama of the Paschal Mystery to be re-enacted in the parishes throughout the world.   There are parishes around which are filled with life.  I hope you can find one.

There’s a parish south of Fort Lauderdale, St. Maurice in Davie, that  has been doing liturgy well and devotedly for many years.  People there are alive, spontaneous, welcoming.  Their eyes sparkle with joy ~  in this neighborhood with many elderly folks. img_0422

As I participated in the liturgy of Palm Sunday , I pondered Jesus’ humility and am grateful that he whittled my aberrant ego down to size.   Philippians today says Jesus “emptied himself of his equality with God and became obedient even unto death.”

I know what humiliation feels like; After a while, it made me humble.  I am a marginalized person with a mental illness and other things. But I rejoice I have found my way to a home here in north Lauderdale’s  Cypress Chase A condominium, as an ordinary person.

As the crowds hailed him as King and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! and threw cloaks and palm branches at his feet, I wonder what he was thinking.  He surely knew that the end was near.  What was his prayer as he looked into the faces of the crowd of well-wishers who would abandon him a few days later when the going got rough?

Here’s the link for Mass readings Palm Sunday.

My prayer this Holy Week is two-fold:

First, the renewal of the priesthood that I find sadly in disarray these days.  Reflecting on Hebrews this week I had a renewed sense of the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood.  He was to stand in the breach and offer his own life as sacrifice.  I pray that we priests would do the same ~ to heroically offer our own selves as gift for the people we have been ordained to shepherd.

I understand the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood more fully, more personally ~ and I commit myself to this charge and ideal ~ to  help our people find the meaning that will inspire all of us, church and society to be purified, cleansed and made holy.

This  in the midst of the messiness of of our economy

of our own personal and family life

of the superficiality, the unreality and lack of moral courage in American culture today

and yes, the messiness of our church.

I unite myself as I have for many years with my priest/brothers who bear the heat of the day.  I will pray for you, for us, fully and richly this week.

And secondly, I continue to pray for the transformation of America.  We have to return to being One Nation Under God.

The humble man who rode into his city on a donkey, not a stunning white stallion as a mighty conqueror is the Jesus I know and love.  I need to follow his way.  img_04271

Lord Jesus,

may we slow down our activity this Holy Week

to unite ourselves in your high priestly prayer

for the reconciliation of the world.

May we be wiling to give of ourselves and accept our crosses

as a way of building up Your kingdom of love here in our world today.

Hosanna to You, the Son of David!

Before you go, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”.  Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again later in the week.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer


Palm Sunday ~ The humility of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday / April 17, 2011

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.  The stage is set for the drama of the Paschal Mystery to be re-enacted in the parishes throughout the world.   There are parishes around which are filled with life.  I hope you can find one.

I have found a parish south of Fort Lauderdale, St. Maurice in Davie, which  has been doing liturgy well and devotedly for many years.  People there are alive, spontaneous, welcoming.  Their eyes sparkle with joy ~  in this neighborhood with many elderly folks. img_0422

As I participated in the liturgy of Palm Sunday , I pondered Jesus’ humility and am grateful that he whittled my aberrant ego down to size.   Philippians today says Jesus “emptied himself of his equality with God and became obedient even unto death.”

I know what humiliation feels like; After a while, it made me humble.  I am a marginalized person with a mental illness and other things. But I rejoice I have found my way to a home here in Cypress Chase A condominium, as an ordinary person.

As the crowds hailed him as King and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! and threw cloaks and palm branches at his feet, I wonder what he was thinking.  He surely knew that the end was near.  What was his prayer as he looked into the faces of the crowd of well-wishers who would abandon him a few days later when the going got rough?

Here’s the link for Mass readings Palm Sunday.

My prayer this Holy Week is two-fold:

First, the renewal of the priesthood which I find sadly in disarray these days.  Reflecting on Hebrews this week I had a renewed sense of the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood.  He was to stand in the breach and offer his own life as sacrifice.  I pray that we priests would do the same ~ to heroically offer our own selves as gift for the people we have been ordained to shepherd.

I understand the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood more fully, more personally ~ and I commit myself to this charge and ideal ~ to  help our people find the meaning that will inspire all of us, church and society to be purified, cleansed and made holy.

This  in the midst of the messiness of of our economy

of our own personal and family life

of the superficiality, the unreality and lack of moral courage in American culture today

and yes, the messiness of our church.

I unite myself as I have for many years with my priest/brothers who bear the heat of the day.  I will pray for you, for us, fully and richly this week.

And secondly, I continue to pray for the transformation of America.  This economic crisis is, in fact, an answer to my prayer in some ways because the shock of it might wake us up before we go over the cliff .  We have to return to being One Nation Under God.

The humble man who rode into his city on a donkey, not a stunning white stallion as a mighty conqueror is the Jesus I know and love.  I need to follow his way.  img_04271

Lord Jesus,

allow us to slow down our activity this Holy Week

to unite ourselves in your high priestly prayer

for the reconciliation of the world.

May we be wiling to give of ourselves and accept our crosses

as a way of building up Your kingdom of love here in our world today.

Hosanna to You, the Son of David!

Before you go, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”.  Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again later in the week.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer