There is a stark transition between the celebration and welcome as we join the pilgrim crowd who join and acclaim Jesus the Messiah in procession into the city of Jerusalem. Suddenly after our palms are blessed and the entry is proclaimed, there is a jolt and a movement in the liturgy into the suffering servant (Isaiah 50:4-7), the lament of the psalmist (Psalm 22:8-24) and the descent of the holy one into the suffering of humanity (Philippians 2:6-11), before we embark on the sorrowing and mournful retelling of the brutal passion and death of Jesus as told by the Gospel of Mark (Mark 14:32-15:47).
In more recent years I have discovered the value of therapy, and now as I undertake studies in counselling, I note the connection between the person-centred model developed by Carl Rogers (1902-1987) and what I have found in my relationship with Jesus. Rogers’ work highlights that for therapeutic relationship to achieve its potential there needs to be congruence from the therapist to bring healing and resolution to the incongruence (dysfunction, problems, turmoil, anxiety, sin…) of the client; empathy with the client; and unconditional positive regard by the counsellor – which does not mean that they condemn nor condone what their client does. Jesus is able to offer all of this to us because he has been through the worst of human suffering and embraced it all for our sake.
Palm / Passion Sunday, Year B.