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Extravagant Love – a reflection by Fr. Mike DeTemple

April 14, 2014

Reflect with Fr. Mike DeTemple, University Chaplain, on the passion narratives read on Palm Sunday.

The Passion narrative we read every year on Palm Sunday reveals Jesus’ moment of glory, when the full truth about him as Messiah and King is made known: he is the crucified King, suffering and dying on a cross for the salvation of all. He is the Suffering Servant, who is with us in our suffering. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life to save his sheep – and does it ironically at the moment of his greatest powerlessness and shame.

This Holy Week we remember what Jesus, out of love, has done for us and we are urged to follow his example by expressing our love for him and all our sisters and brothers in profound and radical ways. In their letter, “To the Ends of the Earth” (1986) the Bishops of the United States expressed it in these words:

Had Jesus merely said that his mission was to set people free from sin and all forms of oppression, his words would have fallen on deaf ears. He had to work at this task of liberation. He not only talked about freeing the poor and oppressed but, undeterred by criticism, actually welcomed the poor and sinners to share at his table. Like Jesus, we must be able to accompany others in their suffering and be willing to suffer with them.

We do this to imitate our Savior “who humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” This week we remember his sacrifice and enter into it more deeply, that we may grow in our love for him and for the people of God; and we express that love concretely in the way we live our lives. In doing so, we fulfill one important aspect of the nature of the Church, as Pope Benedict XVI expressed it in his encyclical letter, “God is Love:” For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is . . . an indispensable expression of her very being. As a community, the Church must practice love, for “If you see charity, you see the Trinity.” (Saint Augustine)

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