The cock-crows in our lives
Palm Sunday

Al Cariño
April 13, 2003
Reproduced with Permission

We now come to the feast of Palm or Passion Sunday; Palm Sunday because on this day we commemorate the solemn entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem with the blessing of the palms; Passion Sunday because the Passion of the Lord (Mk. 14:1-15:47) is read at Mass thus ushering in the Holy Week and the celebration of the Paschal Mystery - the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

The over-all motif for Holy Week is found in Phil. 2:5-11 which is a summary of "the great mysteries of our redemption": Jesus, though Son of God, took the form of a man, obediently accepted "even death on a cross", so that in the end "God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every name: ... Lord."

The crowning moment of Mark's Passion narrative came from a completely unexpected source - a Roman centurion. As he watched Jesus expire, he grasped that this was not the death of just any man. Thus he shouted, "Truly this man was God's Son!" An act of faith indeed!

The solemn entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem was the decisive step He took towards His suffering and death. When He entered Jerusalem, the crowd placed palms and branches in His path and shouted, "Hosannah! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jesus was going to Jerusalem as King and Savior! But this was shortlived. It was soon followed by His passion and death.

As we celebrate "the great mysteries of our redemption", we see illustrated the fickleness of man. On Palm Sunday the people cried their "Hosannahs". But on Good Friday they shouted "Crucify Him!".

We have no better example of this fickleness than in St. Peter himself. When Jesus began to teach His disciples that the Son of God must suffer, be killed and rise again after three days, Peter remonstrated with Jesus. But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." By calling Peter "Satan" and telling him to depart from Him, Jesus was in effect saying that he was "doing a Satan" who tried to deviate Him from His mission by tempting Him will all kinds of offers.

After the apostles had partaken of the Eucharistic Meal at the Last Supper, Jesus said with great sadness that they would all be scattered upon seeing Him betrayed and arrested. To which Peter declared, "Even though all are shaken in faith, it will not be that way with me" (Mk. 14:29). That self-confidence of Peter again!

In all these, we can see that Peter, though at one time confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, just could not accept that He was to go through His passion!

When what Jesus foretold began to unfold, Peter, because he still held on to his mind set, betrayed Jesus. When he heard the cock crow, he broke down and cried. Peter, who gloried in his loyalty and love for Jesus, must have been terribly humiliated by his betrayal. He was able to connect the crowing of the cock with his betrayal of Jesus. Then a great realization dawned on him: to follow Jesus, to love Him and be loyal to Him, was not his own making! Rather, it was a gift from God. He realized that apart from God, he was nothing - finally.

The crowing of the cock was Peter's salvation. Like Peter, we have a whole history of betrayals of the Lord both in the past and ahead of us. Unlike Peter before the cock-crows, we accept Jesus, crucified and risen. But we have not realized that accepting Jesus means loving Him which we manifest by our fidelity to His message. Instead, we go on living as if Jesus is just on the periphery rather than at the center of our lives. Our betrayals and falls can jolt us back to the reality of our sinfulness and dependence on God.

Like Peter, let us learn to listen to the "crowing of the cock" as we go through life. We have to accept that following Jesus means dying to our selves and living in Jesus. We have to learn that our betrayals and falls when fully acknowledged and repented - the cock-crows in our lives - are occasions of cleansing and renewal which will usher us into a new life, a life with Jesus.

Today and in the following days, reflecting on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us renew our commitment to follow Jesus as we struggle to die to ourselves so that Jesus will remain the Lord of our lives. Finally, let us humbly fall on our knees, examine the many ways we have betrayed Jesus through our sins, make a good and sincere confession, and finally ask for the gift to be always faithful in following Him.