Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
We have arrived on our Lenten journey at Palm Sunday! These readings give me pause. They offer so much to reflect on as we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and then in contrast walk with Jesus to the agony of his crucifixion.
Picture it… People are spreading their cloaks on the road while Jesus was making his entry into Jerusalem on a colt. The disciples “began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’” We attend Mass on Palm Sunday and sometimes are fiddling with our palms (sometimes making palm crosses in the pew) and perhaps mindlessly going through Mass. We may not take a moment to really think about the symbolism and meaning of that day and may not engage in full participation at the Mass. Take in that moment of Jesus entering Jerusalem, close your eyes, and imagine what it may have been like. What must it have felt like to be a disciple? They had given up their lives and followed Jesus. The long awaited Messiah had come and was in their midst in the city of Jerusalem. The story, however, does not end here.
Let’s ponder this moment further, as it applies to our own spiritual lives. It is easy to sit in Church and praise God…but here are a few questions to ask ourselves? Do we praise God no matter what situation we are given in life? Do we praise God when we go through a painful life experience? Are we confident in our faith when we are in situations with coworkers, family members, or friends who may belittle our faith? Are we zealous for God and willing to be self-sacrificial in order to carry out His mission here on earth? Are we like the disciples who in this moment are fervent in their faith and maintain a posture of praise and confidence in God? This is not an easy task. but can be achieved through prayer, practice and the Sacraments.
In the second reading we hear that “…He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Out of LOVE Jesus offered Himself and was obedient to the point of death. Just let that settle in. He gave His all—His very life for us in a painful crucifixion—all the while being betrayed by those whom He was closest to. When I was a young girl I remember being so upset with the disciples for falling asleep. It’s like that saying “you had one job…” and the disciples just could not muster the energy to keep watch with our Lord. As an adult (and mother of a toddler) I can understand how easy it is to fall short of what God is calling us to do (and to stay awake.) It was easy to judge those disciples but how many times do we fail to cooperate with the great plans that God has for us and keep watch?
Our Blessed Mother was there for Him through it all including every painful step on the way to Calvalry; and is here for us in our trials. In our trials, all we have to do is place it at the foot of the Cross. Jesus endured all of the torture that He did out of love. It may sound cliché but I was once told that nails didn’t hold Jesus to the wood of the Cross—love did! How that resonates with me when I gaze at the Cross.
God asks us to be obedient to His will and commandments every day (and at a lesser cost for us). In the midst of our daily struggles and triumphs, do we offer God our praise? A bi-product of praising God is that we develop our trust in Him and in turn that grace helps us to be obedient. Obedience offers us true happiness, true joy—even in the midst of suffering and trials.
Christ is the perfect model of self-sacrifice and as the second reading tells us “Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Wow! This verse gives me goosebumps thinking that at the very name of Jesus that EVERY knee should bend! When my two-year-old daughter sees a Church, she squeals “Jesus!” If only we all could be so thrilled and have such pure zeal for God. She would fit right in with the crowd in Jerusalem. Would we? What a humbling lesson from such an innocent, beautiful soul. I have also had the joy, this side of heaven, of seeing our young Church fall down on bended knee before Jesus in Adoration, as if they too were there as He entered Jerusalem. What a powerful experience. What a gift the Eucharist is to us. Luke’s Gospel this Sunday helps us to reflect on the very time when Jesus instituted the Eucharist which gives us our strength and courage to follow God’s will, be servant leaders and to praise our loving God—in all circumstances.
Again, just close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be there in Jerusalem as Jesus entered the city. Also, take the time during Holy Week to ponder the great love that God has for us. When we reflect on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and enter into his suffering the more that we grow closer to Him and grow in holiness so that we truly can live as “Easter people.” As Lent comes to end maybe we can try to have more of that zeal of a two year old and as we go forward to receive the Eucharist Praise Him and just say to ourselves “Jesus!”
By: Katie Tylinski, Regional Director for Faith Formation, Parishes of Region 2