Palm Sunday: Gospel – Mark 14:1-15:47

Where is God in the Suffering?"

Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore
on 1st April 2012

Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord.  There is a Greek verb that is used constantly in connection with the Passion of Jesus, and that verb is “paradidomi.”  This word is often translated as “betray” but its basic meaning is “handing over.”

In today’s Gospel, we find Judas “handing over” Jesus to the Sanhedrin (the enemies of the Good News of Salvation); the Sanhedrin in turns hands Jesus over to Pilate, and Pilate to the crowds; and finally we have the crowds handing Jesus over to the executioners.

In the days before Jesus was handed over to His executioners, His ministry of proclaiming the Good News of Salvation was filled with activities of teaching, performing miracles of healing, exorcism and even raising Lazarus from death.  Jesus was in full control of what and how He wanted the Good News of Salvation to be proclaimed to all peoples.


However, the moment Jesus was “handed over,” beginning with Judas and finally to His executioners, Jesus becomes completely passive.  Jesus surrenders the outcome of His life without any form of resistance.  In His great submission, Jesus seemingly allowed His enemies to triumph over Him.  Judas’ plans went through without a hitch; the priests of the Sanhedrin’s demand for Jesus’ execution as a criminal had gone pass Pilate who had washed his hands of all responsibilities and finally, the clamour of the crowd for Jesus’ crucifixion as a criminal is well on track; Jesus IS going to be CRUCIFIED as a criminal alongside with other public criminals.  The plot of those in power, the priests of the Sanhedrins, the enemies of the Good News of Salvation, proclaiming Jesus as a blasphemer and mocking Him for proclaiming Him as the “Son of God” has seemingly succeeded in their schemes.

Externally, physically and emotionally it all probability Jesus appears to have failed in His Mission; the Messiah who claimed to be the Son of God is now heading for His Crucifixion; His preaching during His public ministry now sounded hollow and His deeds of compassion forgotten . . . Even Jesus Himself is heard crying out on His Cross, “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?!”

In the eyes of the public Jesus’ life ended as a disaster.  To believers, Jesus life hung on the hope that is yet to come; a mystery that is incomprehensible in the midst of such cruel and brutal torture and death of their Messiah, the Son of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the world around us we are also tempted to think and feel that the many different scenes of the Passion of Jesus is actually also taking place today, in different forms, but on a global scale.  We have millions of people dying of starvation when there is excess food; deprived of clean water, dying of thirst, suffering all kinds of sickness that can be prevented, meaningless killing of innocent lives and global systematic injustice that continues to marginalise the poor and the needy and the like . . . the list is endless.

This list too seeps into our personal lives; when we experience the pain and suffering of our loved ones who are dying of illness, who are for years locked into their depression; the constant strain of marital relationships, the meaningless of the priesthood and religious vocation in crises, the horror of having to feed a family and having lost one’s job, the helplessness of an aged and sick without any care . . . abandoned and waiting for death . . . empty of any consolation . . .

In all of these, my sisters and brothers in Christ, as believers in the Good News, we are called to renew our faith in God; even as Jesus cries out, “My God, My God, why have you deserted me,” at the depth of Jesus’ heart and at the core of His pain Jesus never doubted that that the power of the Holy Spirit will never allow Him to be crushed; that evil will never prevail or triumph.  That His Father’s Will, will eventually prevail and there will be victory . . . and that what is most important to believe is that God will never give up on us.

Likewise, my brothers and sisters in Christ, when we feel the pain of the trials of our lives and even as we see before our eyes, the global evil forces destroying God’s most precious children, and even as we are to find ourselves echoing in our hearts, “My God, My God why have You deserted me,” we like Jesus must also never doubt that at the core of the evil in the world and the helplessness and hopelessness of our sufferings, and the sufferings of our loved ones, we must always believe that evil regardless of how threating and powerful they may seem to be externally, will never prevail or triumph.  God will eventually reign supreme in our lives and in the world.  This is the silent and divine reality that we must never forget . . . And we are call to be hope and bring hope to all peoples in our daily lives .

Fr Philip Heng,S.J.


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