Sunday Scriptures

Challenged to Accept God’s Plan

By Msgr. Joseph P. Calise

I have always been a fan of “The Wizard of Oz.” I remember being a child and staring at the television each time it was on as if it were a brand new experience. When, as an adult, I heard about the production of “Wicked,” I was not pleased at the thought that someone was tampering with a longtime favorite.

After seeing it, I came to a very different opinion. Seeing that the wicked witch was not always so wicked, and that the good witch was not always so good, strikes a note of reality. For most of us, adolescence is precisely that opportunity to examine life’s options until we ultimately make the decision for whom we want to be and how we want to live. The Scriptures today are filled with those contrasts: the same people showing their good and bad sides as they are challenged to choose who they want to be and whom they wish to follow.

Guilt and Faith

The crowds, for example, who scream “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord,” when they see Jesus enter Jerusalem will be the same crowds that later shout “Crucify Him.” Judas who answered the call to be an apostle will betray Jesus after sharing in the first Eucharist. Peter, who professes his willingness to go to prison for Christ at the Last Supper, denies Him three times hours later to avoid going to prison. Even a criminal on a cross next to Jesus acknowledges at the same time his guilt and his faith.

As a matter of fact, the only consistency we see comes from Jesus. From His prayer in the Garden, “Not my will but yours be done,” through His words on the cross, “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” Jesus remains absolutely faithful to His mission. Further, He invites us to that same fidelity even to the point of forgiving our sins to give us another chance. There is always hope.

Responding to His example of faithfulness, everyone changes: The crowds form the early Church; Peter repents and becomes the Rock; the criminal is told, “This day you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus’ fidelity inspires others to a conversion that will endure. (Only Judas causes complications. Was his suicide a misguided form of repentance or the abandonment of hope. In either case, it is never the answer.)

It comes to us as a challenge then to understand and imitate the fidelity of Christ to the Father’s plan. In the first Gospel, read during the solemn blessing of palms, Jesus commands the disciples to go into the city. St. Luke writes that “those who had been sent went off and found everything just as He told them.” He knew what awaited Him. So even as He prayed, “Father take this cup from Me,” He accepted the Father’s plan. It’s in this acceptance, I believe, that we can come to fidelity. God has a plan for each of us. Faith does not mean we know God’s plan but that we believe He has one, even when we are facing the crosses of life. So we celebrate Palm Sunday already aware of the promise of Easter.

Clear Message

When we look at the contrast between “Wicked” and “The Wizard of Oz,” when we see the invitations to growth in the Scriptures and in our daily lives, the message becomes clear. None of us is so good that we can’t be better, and none is so bad that there is no hope. We enter into Holy Week challenged by the highs and lows of human behavior to see Christ as the example and strive in His footsteps to discover and live out God’s plan for us.

Readings for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

At the procession with palms: Luke 19:28-40

Isaiah 50: 4-7

Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

Philippians 2: 6-11

Luke 22:14 – 23:56 or Luke 23: 1-49

Msgr. Joseph P. Calise is the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg.


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