Reflection for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, Cycle A

1st Gospel (at the blessing of the palms):

Matthew 21:1–11

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

1st Reading:

Isaiah 50:4-7

The third of four Suffering Servant oracles. Scripture scholars don’t know to whom they originally referred. Eventually they were applied to the expected messiah. They seem to fit Jesus perfectly.

2nd Reading:

Philippians 2:6-11

Paul points out that Jesus took on the form of a slave. I think that means a slave to the will of the Father who desired that we be saved through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This is a pretty phenomenal truth which I think needs no explanation. Recalling it is a good way to begin Holy Week.

Gospel:

Matthew 26:14-27:66

“… after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.  Mt 26:32

From the first Gospel, at the blessing of the Palms, to this Gospel, there is a stark contrast. I think the liturgy for today does that on purpose. It wants us to feel that we, like Peter, are traitors; we praise the Lord at one moment and deny him by our actions at another. We may not deny him by our words but sometimes our actions, our sinfulness, denies that we know him.

This type of betrayal of another seems to be part of the human condition. We find ourselves doing it to our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends… whoever! But the whole crowd, praising Jesus as “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord”, turned against him and cried “crucify him, crucify him”. How does this happen… to the Son of God… sent to be our savior?

It seems to me that this happened because people had the wrong idea about Jesus in the first place. Remember… they were saying  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” They wanted a king-messiah… to restore the Kingdom of David and throw off the yoke of the oppressors. They wanted someone who would fix things outside of them convinced that it would make their lives perfect.

That wasn’t the messiah that Jesus is. Jesus wanted to fix them from the inside in order that they might fix the external. He was constantly calling them to growth, to living the depth of the law – the law of love – not the minimalist attitude they had of not breaking the law. He wanted them to leave their perceptions of how to do life behind and look at living life in a new way. He wanted them to learn to care about others before they took care of their own perceived needs. That’s not the kind of messiah they wanted, so it is easy to see how they turned against him.

I’m reminded of the movie The Passion of the Christ and of a Penance Service I participated in. Both concentrated on the cosmic battle between good and evil, and they were both right, Jesus won it! But, that should not get in the way of our seeing that Jesus wants to join with us to win the battle of evil in our own lives. This is about more than lifting high the cross. It is about taking up our own crosses, in our own lives, and joining it with His.

We focus, this week, on Jesus’ passion and death, but remember He told his apostles that after the resurrection He would go before them to Galilee. Galilee was where the apostles were born and lived and worked and played. He was going to see them in their day-to-day lives. As we liturgically experience the sadness and grief over our Lord’s death, and the manner in which He died, how do we hold on to His promise to see us in our day-to-day lives. How can we join our lives, our cross, to his?

I think the way is to understand what I believe is the most neglected teaching of our Church and, in my mind, one of the most important. Paragraph 48 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, from Vatican Council II, says “they (the lay faithful at Mass) should give thanks to God by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him; they should learn also to offer themselves, through Christ the Mediator.” For me, this echoes Thomas’ statement from the story of the raising of Lazarus, “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16). For me, it is how we join our day-to-day lives to His. It is how we experience His presence in our day-to-day lives. And, it is how we experience the resurrection, as much as we can in this world, with Him.

Verse by Verse

Mt 26:14 “Judas Iscariot” | Used as name here, it evidently means “zealot” (see Lk 6:15). The zealots were an anti-Roman party of Jesus’ times.

Mt 26:15 “they paid him thirty pieces of silver” | The amount, here, doesn’t appear to have nay particular significance.

Mt 26:18 “my appointed time draws near” | This is an emphasis in Matthew’s Gospel that doesn’t exist in the others. It may point to Matthew’s understanding of God’s plan.

Mt 26:25 “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” | Is Judas just trying to play along. Does he not trust that Jesus knows what he is doing? Or, is he thinking he is doing the right thing and disagreeing with the judgement that “it would be better for that man if he had never been born”? Mt 26:24b

Mt 26:28   “…this is my blood of the covenant…” | This points back to Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God speaks of a new covenant wherein He will forgive our sins and we will be His people and He will be or God. Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. I take this as superior to the similarities with Ex 24:8 and Zechariah 9:11 because of it reference to the forgiveness of sins.

Mt 26:28 “…which will be shed on behalf of many…” | This refers to a covenant (agreement) sealed with the offering of a sacrifice. Here Jesus is the sacrifice.

Mt 26:32 “… after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” | Galilee was the area where the apostles were born and were raised, where they lived and worked and played. In Matthew’s Gospel that is where the ministry of the Church begins.

Mt 26:42 “…if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it…” | Jesus expresses the human condition but accepts the realities of life. I don’t believe God’s will is details here, but in the goal to bring His love to humanity no matter the cost.

Mt 26:52 “…put your sword back into its sheath…” | This whole section shows Jesus’ attitude toward bending to God’s will. To accomplish our goal with the sword, or any type of power, is to make ourselves God. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches only submission to life (God’s will) and carrying through to the end God has in mind. It raises the question of when do we act and when do we submit.

Mt 26:53 “Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father…” | This comment shows that the human Jesus could choose to not fulfill his destiny and not bring us salvation. I shows that Jesus is aware of his choices. It is similar to the second temptation recorded by Matthew 4:5.

Mt 26:56 “…then all the disciples left him and fled.” | It is interesting that this comment is connected to the comment about the Scriptures being fulfilled. What is it from which they are fleeing? Do we flee from the same thing?

Mt 26:58 “Peter was following him at a distance…” | The disciple follows the master closely. I think it significant that Peter was following at a distance at this time. Do we follow the Lord closely or at a distance?

Mt 26:59-60 | Matthew’s description of the trial was that it was prejudiced and unlawful from the very beginning.

Mt 26:63 “…the Messiah, the Son of God.” | The Messiah and the Son of God are the same. This is actually two questions; Are you the messiah, are you the sone of God? Messiah and Christ are interchangeable, Hebrew and Greek words meaning the same thing, the anointed one. The anointed one was expected to be sent by God to deliver the Jewish people.

Mt 26:64 “…You have said so.” | Unlike in Mk 14:62, Jesus isn’t really answering the question here. He is putting it back on the High Priest to judge whether or not he is the Messiah.

Mt 26:64 “… at the right had of the Power…” | This simply means at the right hand of God.  

Mt 26:67-68 “Then they spat in his face and struck him…” | Matthew’s Gospel makes it sound as if it is the leaders of the Jewish people ridiculing Jesus. Marks Gospel, Mk 14:65 says “some began to spit on him…” Luke doesn’t mention this first episode of Jesus being mocked. John 18:22 says that Jesus was struck by one of the guards, but it wasn’t in mocking. It was because of Jesus’ response to the high priest.

Mt 26:69-75 Peter’s denial | All four Gospels relate Peter’s denial with some differences, Mk 14:66-72, Lk 22:54-62 and Jn 18:25-27.

Mt 27:3 “…seeing that Jesus had been condemned…” | Judas’ regret came after he saw the consequences of his actions. How many times have we done the same thing?

Mt 27:15-23 The release of Barabbas | This story is told in all four Gospels, here, Mk 15:6-14, Lk 23:17-23 and Jn 18:39-40.

Mt 27:28-31 The mocking of Jesus | Mathew and Mark give similar accounts (see Mk 15:17-20). Luke 22:63-65 seems to be talking about the same mocking. John 19:1-3 speaks of it briefly also.

Mt 27:45-54 The crucifixion. | Matthew’s telling is very similar to Mark 15:33-39 except that Matthew adds the story of the earthquake and the saints rising form their tombs (Mt 27:51b-53). Luke 23:44-48 gives an abbreviated version and Jn 19:28-30 focusses on the ministry of Jesus brought to completion.

Mt 27:55-56 Witnesses to the crucifixion. | Matthew is similar to Mk 15:40-41. Luke 23:49 doesn’t name the witnesses and John 19:25-27 states the Jesus’ mother Mary was there.

Mt 27:57-61 Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus’ body. | All four Gospels recount this story, here, Mk 15:42-47, Lk 23:50-56 and Jn 19:38-42.

Mt 27:62-66 The Guard at the tomb. | Matthew is the only Gospel which recounts this story.

Reflection:

Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’; but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”

Question:

What words or phrases jumped out at you during the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday? What connection do those words or phrases have to your day-to-day life? (Why do you think they jumped out at you?) What might God be trying to say to you through these words or phrases? What response should you make? What action should you take?

Alternative:

Where is your Galilee? Where is the risen Lord in your Galilee? Share about/think about a time when you have experienced His presence there. What would need to change for you to live your life with more awareness of the Lord’s presence?

30 thoughts on “Reflection for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, Cycle A

  1. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips and hints for rookie blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

    1. Bethany, Thanks for your comment. My only suggestion for blogging is to just dig in. I actually don’t like blogging. I don’t like being tied to a schedule but I do this basically for my parishioners. It keeps me from feeling like I have to give a detailed explanation during my homies. God bless.

  2. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact used to be a enjoyment account it.
    Look complex to more delivered agreeable from you!
    However, how could we keep in touch?

  3. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

    1. Tuan, I’m currently writing a little book on the Mass as Encounter. Scripture is one type of encounter with the Lord. I don’t know how much writing I want to do or whether I would have time for it. God bless you and your endeavors.

  4. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wished to thanks to your time for this wonderful learn!! I definitely enjoying every little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  5. Nice post. I learn something tougher on totally different blogs everyday. It should at all times be stimulating to learn content from other writers and observe a little bit something from their store. I抎 prefer to make use of some with the content material on my blog whether you don抰 mind. Natually I抣l provide you with a hyperlink on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  6. This is the best weblog for anybody who desires to seek out out about this topic. You realize a lot its almost onerous to argue with you (not that I actually would want匟aHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

  7. Aw, this was a very nice post. In idea I want to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article?but what can I say?I procrastinate alot and in no way seem to get something done.

  8. I and my guys were found to be viewing the excellent key points found on your web page and all of the sudden I got a terrible feeling I never expressed respect to the site owner for them. My boys were happy to read through them and already have unquestionably been having fun with them. Appreciation for indeed being quite considerate and then for deciding upon varieties of excellent subject matter millions of individuals are really eager to be aware of. My personal sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.

  9. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

    Here is my web blog :: Reyna

  10. Great article! This is the type of info that should be shared around the internet.

    Shame on Google for not positioning this post upper! Come
    on over and discuss with my web site . Thanks =)

  11. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your site and in depth information you
    present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Wonderful read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to
    my Google account.

  12. I needed to put you the little bit of word in order to thank you so much as before for those awesome solutions you have documented on this website. This has been really remarkably generous with you to convey openly all many of us would have offered as an e book in order to make some profit for their own end, even more so considering that you could have tried it in case you considered necessary. These points as well acted like a easy way to be sure that the rest have similar zeal really like my own to know much more on the subject of this issue. I believe there are some more pleasurable situations ahead for folks who examine your blog post.

  13. I do believe all of the ideas you’ve introduced in your post.
    They are very convincing and will certainly work.

    Still, the posts are very quick for newbies.
    May just you please extend them a little from next
    time? Thank you for the post.

  14. I do not even know how I finished up right here, but
    I believed this post was good. I don’t recognize who you
    are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you happen to are not already.
    Cheers!

  15. I am only writing to make you understand what a impressive encounter my wife’s girl found going through your site. She mastered so many things, including how it is like to possess an excellent giving mindset to make other people smoothly know specified advanced things. You really exceeded visitors’ desires. Many thanks for supplying those essential, dependable, edifying not to mention cool tips about that topic to Gloria.

  16. Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back yet
    again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change,
    may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    Also visit my web page: nyrheim.net

  17. Hey there, You’ve done an incredible job.
    I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends.

    I’m confident they will be benefited from this website.

  18. May I simply just say what a relief to find an individual who genuinely knows what
    they’re talking about on the net. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised that you are not more popular because
    you definitely possess the gift.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *