On this Palm/Passion Sunday, as we enter into the Holiest Week of the Liturgical Year we hear the words of Isaiah; “The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” Jesus did just that. No wonder the population came out to greet him with Palm!
But just who are the weary touched by the Mission of Jesus? Jesus cried from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me”. And sad to say this is echoed in our day by those who suffer. There are the weary who cry out in homes that are torn by division. The hungry and homeless, the lonely and imprisoned cry out for justice. The immigrants and refugees are wearied by crushing rejection. Victims of human trafficking and violence are invisible and made victims again. Those who serve the sick and work for justice in our time are often wearied. We are called to hear that cry that we may respond. In a loud voice, Jesus cried out twice in this reading of the passion. Why in a loud voice? Besides the agony of Jesus’ suffering, his voice reaches us so that we might truly hear the plight of the wearied. Those who are weary need that we not only listen but that we hear. As a pastoral care counselor in a home care visiting nurse service, I hear the cries of our patients who are burdened by their illness and see the exhaustion of caregivers. I am witness to a distress and discouragement that is hidden, that is whispered, and that is shouted in pain and abandonment. It takes intention to hear. It takes an open heart to hear. It is a willingness to walk with someone in their passion.
And just who will speak to the weary a word that will rouse them? I remember a young woman who was heading to Central America years ago in the midst of grave injustices. As the South Bronx People for Change, we said to her “Grita la verdad” That is “Shout out the Truth”. Easier said than done. Being a voice for the voiceless has a price to pay. Isn’t it worth it when we see those who are suffering offered hope? Isn’t it worth it when we see the complacent moved to act. Quite a few town hall meetings lately in our country, yes? The halls of Congress are not as quiet as they were before. Some preachers are raising their voices to God in prayer. Surely. But the word is being preached to Congregations of all Faiths who are sometimes oblivious to the needs surrounding them and to the Mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, why not us.
It is not our word, so we need not fear. “Morning after morning God opens my ear that I might hear”. This Word that we hear, this Word that we speak that can rouse the hopeless, the helpless, the broken hearted, the abused. Will it be Scripture or will it be a letter to an absent family member? Will it be a prayer or will it be a protest? Will it be legislation that we helped to change” Will we speak out with a loud voice as a Social Justice Team or will we advocate for the Catholic Church to speak out?
In that Spirit, we pray with the words of the US Catholic Bishops:
“God of Justice, open our eyes to see You in the face of the poor. Open our ears to hear You in the cries of the exploited. Open our mouths to defend You in the public square as well as in private deed…”
We need O God a Word to rouse us that we may rouse the weary to New Life. And in the words of a hymn: “We will run and not grow weary for our God will be our strength. And we will fly like the eagle. We will rise again.”
And there will be a Procession of Palm once again.
Sister Jo-Anne Faillace, OP