“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
Palm Sunday and the reading of Jesus’ story of suffering and death remind me of this sentence from a favorite author of mine, Willa Cather. Why do we gather around to hear this story again and again? Because it is one of the few human stories: the story of a human being struggling to be free and find his destiny; the story of the pain of loss and rejection, even death; and the story of emerging into the light, conquering our foes, and finding abundant life again.
Jesus’ final battle with the forces of power and evil is our own story, if we open our eyes. Some days, when all is well, I wonder, “Why do we speak so much of Jesus’ suffering and his death?” Then, when I am in trouble or weary with the world, I realize, “Jesus’ story is my own. He faced everything I’ll ever face. God understands.”
When were you hurt and humiliated unjustly, perhaps by a parent or a boss at work? When were you rejected by someone you thought loved you? When did you suffer a loss so earth-shattering – the loss of a job, a loved one, a dream, or the facing of your own death – that you believed you could not go on living?
Jesus’ story is our own story. It is the most profound, archetypal human story we know. It’s also the most hopeful story, because it tells us that God brings life out of death. JBM