April 5, 2020: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Reflect on who is being crucified in the world today as you contemplate the Stations of the Cross
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm: 22:8-9,17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Catechism of the Catholic Church
How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”. Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”. Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth. And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds. Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”, is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover. (559) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Matthew 27:45, 51
The entrance of Jesus Christ into the history of the world reaches its culmination in the Paschal Mystery, where nature itself takes part in the drama of the rejection of the Son of God and in the victory of his Resurrection (cf. Mt 27:45,51, 28:2). Crossing through death and grafting onto it the new splendor of the Resurrection, Jesus inaugurates a new world in which everything is subjected to him (cf. 1 Cor 15:20-28) and he creates anew those relationships of order and harmony that sin had destroyed. Knowledge of the imbalances existing between man and nature should be accompanied by an awareness that in Jesus the reconciliation of man and the world with God — such that every human being, aware of divine love, can find anew the peace that was lost — has been brought about. “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Nature, which was created in the Word is, by the same Word made flesh, reconciled to God and given new peace (cf. Col 1:15-20). (454)
The unsurpassed apex of the perspective indicated here is the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the New Man, who is one with humanity even to the point of “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). In him it is always possible to recognize the living sign of that measureless and transcendent love of God-with-us, who takes on the infirmities of his people, walks with them, saves them and makes them one. In him and thanks to him, life in society too, despite all its contradictions and ambiguities, can be rediscovered as a place of life and hope, in that it is a sign of grace that is continuously offered to all and because it is an invitation to ever higher and more involved forms of sharing.
Jesus of Nazareth makes the connection between solidarity and charity shine brightly before all, illuminating the entire meaning of this connection: “In the light of faith, solidarity seeks to go beyond itself, to take on the specifically Christian dimensions of total gratuity, forgiveness and reconciliation. One’s neighbour is then not only a human being with his or her own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but becomes the living image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the permanent action of the Holy Spirit. One’s neighbour must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her; and for that person’s sake one must be ready for sacrifice, even the ultimate one: to lay down one’s life for the brethren (cf. 1 Jn 3:16)”. (196)
The Passion revels in cumulative acts of denial. Judas opening the narrative bargaining for payment to turn Jesus over to authorities and the denial of his discipleship. His denial of focusing on preparing for the celebration of Passover to focus on an opportunity to hand the Lord over. All for thirty pieces of silver, maybe a month’s wage for a laborer, Judas’ denial of his soul. The denial of a town abuzz in Passover preparation, where the population swelled from 30,000 to 130,000. People in denial of undercurrents of religious strategies fracturing holiness, authority reeling in steps maintaining power. Denial of the Shepherd, as the sheep scattered in dismissing their friendship. Denial by those who had asked to sit at Jesus’ right hands as they fell asleep, unable to keep their eyes open when the hour was at hand. Denial of peace and fraternity with the embrace of a kiss backed up with swords and clubs. Denial of the Lord, addressing Him as rabbi. Denial of the priest’s servants ability to serve in the temple going forth, as a severed ear, not healed in Matthew’s account, excluded one from priestly service as prescribed in the words of Leviticus. Denial of any reason to put Jesus to death, even though many false testimonies attempted to turn the tide. And the denial of slanderous rebuttal by silence. Denial of the Divinity of Jesus, as the high priest tore his robes and others spat in His face, striking and slapping Him. Denial of accompanying Jesus the Galilean, the Nazorean by cursing and swearing, which the cock crowed to affirm. Pilate’s denial of his wife’s dream to have nothing to do with the righteous man. The denial of Jesus, for the sake of Barabbas. Denial of Jesus’ kingship with the mockery of a soldier of war’s scarlet cloak and piercing crown of thorns. The denial of the revolutionary crucified by the side of Jesus saving power spewing abuse. Denial of old ways transitioning to a newness of life, until the veil of the sanctuary was torn when Jesus gave up His spirit.
Some refused to contribute to the spirit of denial. The faithful women who followed Jesus from Galilee. Jospeh of Arimathea who acted counter culturally, to his cohorts in the Council of the Sanhedrin, in asking for Jesus’ body and placing it in a newly hewn tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sitting before the sealed tomb, stone rolled in place, in the first act of adoration before the Lord.
Examining our own lives, as followers of Jesus, yes we have denied the Lord to which we offer our acts of contrition. But most importantly, we must turn past denials into acts of support, honor and praise as disciples of Jesus today. For the story of the Passion continues to unfold in salvation history, for the Lord God is our help. As Jesus emptied himself to enter our human likeness in humility, we must assume a humble demeanor to confess by our lives and with bended knees that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Amen
Individual Reflection: Philippians 2:6-11
Since we will not attend Good Friday liturgies in person this year, spend time reflecting on the emptiness of our churches, when the open tabernacle door reveals the empty tabernacle on Good Friday.
Family Reflection: Matthew 26:14-27:66
Partake in a seder meal reflective of Passover custom
Prayer: Palm Sunday and Good Friday liturgies have one of the most powerful liturgical moments, when the Gospel readings proclaim Jesus gave up His spirit and all kneel in silence. Take time during Holy Week to prayerfully embrace this moment in contemplation.
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By Barb Born March 31, 2020 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.