I came out of my computer fog yesterday and noticed that God had flicked the switch to “spring” recently; all the flowers and plants are beginning to rise up from their long winter sleep underground and once-dormant trees are starting to bloom. (Stop right there, botanists: do not disillusion me by explaining how chlorophyll and photosynthesis and all that scientific stuff works: I prefer to picture God walking over to the “Visual Entertainment for Humans” wall and flicking a giant circuit breaker to activate the greenery.)
As I drove towards one of my churches for the first Mass of Holy Week, the blooming pear trees lining that small town’s roadway made me think of the canopy of palms Jesus rode through on his way into Jerusalem. The white flower-laden tree branches, waving in the gentle morning breeze, reminded me of the beginning of the Passion reading we would soon hear: the townspeople, first jubilantly welcoming the Lord, soon rejected Him as they allowed fear, mistrust, and cowardice to influence their actions.
The crowd’s choice of Barabbas over the blameless Christ, the ridicule, torture and disdain showered upon Jesus all mirrored the winter we had just left: cold, bitter, unforgiving. We humans, two thousand years ago and today, were and are an easy people for a lesser Man to have turned His back upon. Yet He did not: He rose, and continued to teach us and love us and teach us to love one another. Year after year, just like those blooming pear trees, we hear the tragic yet redemptive lesson of this Passion and Resurrection story. Could this be the year we will allow it to imitate the pear trees and be awakened to fully bloom within us? The remainder of Holy Week awaits our prayer-filled answer.