Palm Sunday: A letter by Father Martin Barta

Dear friends,

Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, marks the beginning of Holy Week, during which we celebrate one of the major feast days of our faith. As they made their way to Jerusalem, Jesus often spoke with His apostles about the suffering and cross that awaited Him. He wanted to prepare them for what was to come. The apostles, however, were afraid and found it difficult to understand that the world was to be delivered through the Passion and cross of Christ.

This year, in the weeks leading up to Easter, we as well have come face-to-face with suffering in a very tangible and quite extraordinary way. The global pandemic, caused by a microscopic virus, has already claimed the lives of thousands. The daily updates on the spread of the virus and ever-changing protective measures have made us all, very personally and palpably, a part of the overwhelming Mystery of the Cross.
Our thoughts and feelings are steered by uncertainty, fear and worries for the future. Jesus was also afraid of suffering and was in mortal danger. But His love for His Father, whom He called Abba, or Papa, in prayer, and the love for humanity was stronger than fear and death. With this love He gave us access to the divine “wellspring” from which we can draw insight and confidence. God is our refuge in all situations, from Him comes the power of love, which endures everything and casts out all fear.

In order to be able to draw from this spring, we, like the apostles, need prayer. Jesus admonishes us to remain awake and to pray so that we may pass the test. Help and salvation come to us through prayer. Even if this salvation, as paradoxical as it may seem, first requires the cross. The cross is the greatest symbol of what Jesus achieved, it is the central symbol of our faith. After all, the crucified Christ was victorious over evil through His death on the cross. He transformed death into resurrection with the power of divine love. That is the Good News from the cross. Since the Resurrection, a divine, transformative power is inherent in our suffering as long as its connection to the cross of Christ remains intact. For Jesus, the cross was “His moment”, the moment He had been born into this world to experience. We, too, need to see this moment, today, as our “moment” to show our love for God, whose love for us is boundless.

Father Martin Barta.
Father Martin Barta.

The cross is not only depicted in the logo of Aid to the Church in Need, it is the true mission and DNA of our charity, which is committed to helping suffering and persecuted Christians. Now that we ourselves feel the cross so acutely, we should direct our attention even more towards the cross of Christ and grasp our cross more firmly in our hands. The more difficult the cross is to bear, the more love we need to feel. And so, even if the current crisis requires many small sacrifices from us and also brings with it great suffering for some, we should not just contemplate our own wounds, but share our cross with the millions of other people who have always lived and continue to live in emergency and crisis situations. May we pray for the salvation of the world with renewed fervour and pure hearts, practice charity and bear our cross in faith. This is the only way evil can be annihilated and the “ruler of this world” be ousted. We shall be victorious in the sign of the cross.

Let us also take refuge in Our Lady, the Mother who was given to us by Jesus from the cross, by faithfully praying her “corona”, the rosary, every day. She spoke these uniquely tender and comforting words to St. Juan Diego in Guadalupe five hundred years ago, in 1531: “Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dearest, smallest son: Nothing should frighten you, nothing aggrieve you. Your heart should not be troubled. Do not fear this illness or any other illness or sorrow. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow, under my protection? Am I not your fountain of joy, your salvation? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crook of my arms? Are you not on my lap? Do you require more than this?” Yes, her immaculate mother’s heart, which suffered at the foot of the cross together with Our Lord, shall in the end triumph over evil.

In the logo of ACN we see that the cross is also an arrow, which breaches the wall of hate, of division and of evil. Let us help bear the cross of Christ with joy in our hearts. In it rests Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). Per crucem ad lucem – through the cross to the light.

I wish you all a sacred and blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Yours,

Martin Barta

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