“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
As I write this Palm Sunday reflection I am visiting friends in Bagong Barrio (barrio: municipality) in Metro Manila, Philippines. I have been coming here for 28 years, since the Marist Brothers and other Australians set up an education fund to try and break the cycle of poverty in what many would regard as a very poor village. There are wonderful people everywhere around us, waiting to serve us and make a few pesos to assist with their family budget. Riding a tricycle in the Barrio is great way to get around the crowded streets amongst a sea of happy, smiling children. It is terrific to see how much has been accomplished in providing children and their families with an education and future.
Last night I was out to a party for one of the richest men in Manila. My friend’s father-in-law was celebrating his birthday. He is a Property Developer who, as the eldest in the family, took over his father’s business at the age of 17 and assisted his mother in raising his six siblings. He is a very humble man, loved by all and yet he was feted like a king. He is a person who has a real heart for the poor and has acted on it in his personal and professional life. This was acknowledged at the party.
The personal experiences of riding through the Barrio and being welcomed by many, and being present at this rich man’s party remind me of Jesus preparing for the first Palm Sunday. This would be his day which he would enjoy, though knowing well that the shadow of the cross would hang over the experience; a bitter-sweet moment. While Jesus is welcomed as the Messiah - the new king or saviour, the joy of the crowd would soon turn to disappointment and hostility, realising that Jesus did not come as a warrior king to overthrow the Roman oppressors, but as the king of love and peace.
As we prepare for Holy Week let us count our blessings and be ready to recognise the Master for who he truly is when he calls.
Thought: As Marists, we are constantly called to “GO” and do the Lord’s bidding. The challenge for us is to answer this call and trust in the Lord. During the events of Holy week let’s reflect on our life and the mission God has given each of us. We trust in faith that at the end of our life our own Easter and everlasting life will come. May we too hear those words of our loving Father; “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Prayer: Lord, grant us the time and space during this Holy Week to reflect on your teachings and the story of your Passion. May you enrich our FAITH and give us the grace to follow our Marist vocation that you have called us to. Amen.
Br Doug Walsh, FMS is based at Nicholson St, Fitzroy in the heart of Melbourne. For over 55 years Doug has been in ‘first gear’ doing non-stop ministry with students and young people at risk. His current ministries include vocations presentations, Remar Youth Ministry and connecting young adults with the marginalised though the Vinnie’s Soup Van. A life-time member of the Collingwood Football Club, Br Doug was also a co-founder of the Bagong Barrio Education Found. http://bbef.org.au/who-we-are/our-history/