Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week 2023. It starts with the   triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ends with the tragic death on Calvary.

 In a sense, it is very strange that this week should be called “holy”.  As we walk through it – and I hope we all will – unfolding before our eyes will be a scene of     deception and dishonor, betrayal and denial, political expedience and religious corruption, all of which culminates in the greatest crime of all history – the death of God’s Son.  Judged by the scenery, this could easily be called anything but holy.  But the strength and courage of one man – Jesus – took those seven days of shame and transformed them into Holy Week.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to be spared the shame and suffering of the cross, but He closed His prayer with the most meaningful sentence: “Not my will but yours be done”.

All of His life Jesus had practiced and preached faith in God the Father.  He believed that the same God who feeds the birds and dresses the flowers could be trusted for the daily necessities of life.  He told the story about a father who met his wayward son with open arms and welcomed him back into the family.  Jesus believed that God could be trusted to forgive and accept even the worst of sinners.

Faith in God, the Father, had always been a part of Jesus’ life, as natural it seemed as breathing.  But the real test came that night in the garden of Gethsemane. It is one thing to trust God amid the flowers of Galilee; it is another thing to trust God under the shadow of the cross.  It is one thing to trust God in the good times; but it is another thing to trust Him in the bad times.

In the Bible, we find many examples of these two kinds of faith – those who trust God when all was going well, and those who turned to Him and trusted Him – even when life seemed to have caved in on them.  The first kind of faith doesn’t mean much unless it carries over into the second.  Anyone can trust God in fair weather; the real test comes in the storm.

In the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel tells a moving story of three young men who passed that test.  The King of Babylon built a golden statue and ordered all the people of Israel to bow down and worship it.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, being three faithful young men, refused to obey that order.  The King was furious and threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace.  And here is what these three young men replied:  “Our God is able to deliver us and will deliver us; but even if He does not, we will never bow down”.  That is unconditional faith.  A faith we all need and a faith we need to transmit to the young today.

But the supreme example of faith in the midst of adversity is found in Jesus during Holy Week.  In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus faced the cross for our salvation and prayed “Father, if it be your will, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done”.  His unwavering faith in God took those seven days of shame and transformed them into Holy Week.

So our faith ought to tell us that God is indeed our loving Father and that He will never stop loving us no matter what we do or have done.  He is always there for us and He is ever eager to accept, to forgive and to save.  So keep on trusting in God.  Keep on placing your unwavering trust in Him.  You will never be disappointed!