We are called to begin at the end

“Begin at the end” is one of management dictums that usually startles the listener, and yet that is the order for the Palm Sunday ritual, which begins with the commemoration of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Later, the gospel reading relates His passion and death.

The passage of Jesus’s procession into the Holy City, some scripture scholars argue, also has the deeper message and image of Jesus’s entry into His glory, namely, His return to the Heavenly Jerusalem at the Ascension or, better still, at the end of time.

The Palm Sunday “hosannas” are not just about the ending to Jesus’s story, but also about the ending to our story, when we join the saints as they go “marching in.”

Some centuries back, when life was more tenuous because of disease and famines and the lifespan was 37 years of age, it may have been easier than it is today to contemplate our eternal destiny. Our daily lives are busy, “cluttered,” and “noisy.” We simply lack time for self-reflection, much less to contemplate life’s ending.

Ironically, we lack time to truly enjoy life right now – that is, the things that really matter: our relationships with our family and friends and with God.

Accordingly, we do not prepared to take in the joyfulness of Jesus’s and our entry into City of God and, paradoxically, can better understand, and even identify with, His suffering.

But we are called to begin at the end – to savor first wonders of our relation with God and our joining the communion of saints as we all “go marching in.” Only then can suffering make any sense.