March 26, 2010

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Pray on Palm Sunday to be faithful, not fickle

Sean GallagherI’ve heard many times in Palm Sunday homilies and reflected many times in prayer about how fickle the crowds were that acclaimed Jesus in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

One day they cheered him. And less than a week later, they jeered him and called for him to be crucified.

It’s good for us to imaginatively and prayerfully place ourselves in the crowd on that first Palm Sunday.

How would we have reacted? Would we have joined in the chorus of “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord”? (Lk 19:38). When things turned out for the worse for Christ, would we have remained faithful to him when everyone else turned away?

Meditating on the fickleness of humanity, however, doesn’t require that we go back in our hearts and minds 2,000 years through time.

I see such inconstancy most every day in my life with my young sons. When it’s almost time to get ready for bed and they are busy playing, I’ll tell them, “In five minutes, it’s pajama time.” They’ll dutifully say, “Yes, Daddy.” I’ll even ask them to repeat that to me just to make sure that they were really listening.

Then, five minutes later when I tell them to stop playing and put on their pajamas, they will often protest loudly and put off bed time as long as possible.

Now I shouldn’t be too hard on my boys. For we adults, and myself in particular, can be very fickle, too.

I try to take time to pray for half an hour early each morning. There have been countless times when I’ve told God that I want to avoid various faults in the day to come—wasting time, losing my patience, etc. And then when the temptations to give in to these faults inevitably come along, I’ll so often easily give in to them.

To one degree or another, each of us lives the fickleness of Palm Sunday every day.

At the same time, we are all also given the grace to be faithful like Christ was on that same Palm Sunday and throughout Holy Week.

He knew in advance the pain and sorrow that his suffering and death were to bring to him. And even though in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed that this chalice might pass him by, our Lord ultimately said, “Thy will be done.”

Jesus was left all alone by his slumbering Apostles when he made that prayer.

When we are faced with the same agony in small ways each day of whether or not to resist or give in to temptation, we can’t pray Christ’s prayer on our own.

Left to our own devices, we will fail in our attempts to imitate Christ’s faithfulness. We will be as fickle as that crowd in Jerusalem.

But if we consciously stay in Christ’s presence during the ins and outs of our everyday lives, he will be there right by our side to help us with his grace.

He’ll help us to be faithful like him, to say a firm “No” to sin and an ultimately joyful “Yes” to our daily crosses that, in faith, we know will lead us to the endless happiness of eternal life.

It’s especially important for parents to take seriously this daily struggle to be faithful and not fickle.

Our children learn from us in so many ways.

When, through Christ’s help, we grow in faithfulness, we’ll help them to become more like him too, even when it’s pajama time. †

Local site Links: