Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

It is the campaign period for the election of public officials in the Philippines. From the town and provincial levels to the national level, we will be voting for our mayors, governors, congressmen, and senators. Already we see campaign posters, and observe the political posturings and maneuvers of the different candidates. It is with this as backdrop that we celebrate Palm Sunday in the Philippines. It is only fitting that we reflect on the “kenosis” of Our Lord Jesus as we begin the Holy Week amidst the fanfare of Philippine elections.

Action starter: In what way are you being a servant of God and His people?

Kenosis is the Greek word used by St. Paul (Philippians 2:6-11) in the second reading to refer to Jesus’ act of emptying Himself. It is to make oneself of no account and to forego something which one could claim, “Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at” (v. 6). From the heights of divinity, Jesus went down to undergo the humiliation of death on the cross. Jesus did this in obedience to the will of the Father. He came to serve, not to be served. This is also the theme of the “suffering Servant of Yahweh” in the first reading (Is. 50:4-7).

As our candidates come around to seek our support and our votes on election day let us be guided in our choices by the principle of kenosis. Does this person seek public office in order to serve the people? Will he work for the common good or will he work only for the good of his family and his close friends? Is he seeking public office in order to enrich himself? Will he be susceptible to corruption?

These seem to be secular and unholy thoughts for Holy Week, however we have to face the fact that as followers of the Lord we have to make choices in the milieu where we find ourselves. Some choices are simple matters and will not need much in-depth moral reflection such as what shall I wear or what shall I have for lunch? Other choices however have important consequences not only for us individually but also for the society where we belong. There is a moral dimension to politics.

Some of us will be entering the political arena. That is an important decision. One may feel called to serve the people in the area of governance. This takes courage and tenacity. We salute those who enter the political arena. Let them be guided however by the principle of kenosis, the willingness to serve. In the perception of some aspirants for office, power is self-serving. Their motto is “What are we in power for?” Do not vote for these types. Let us use our voting power in a wise and reasonable way.

In the hoopla of the campaign period, we will be courted with promises, we will be entertained by actors, singers, and actresses. We will be threatened with goons and guns. Some will try to buy us off. Candidates will buy tv time, radio time, posters, sample ballots and will employ many other gimmicks. Do not be impressed by all these. Let the principle of kenosis be our guide. Will he be willing to serve the people?