March 20, 2016: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
Peace is built up day after day in the pursuit of an order willed by God and can flourish only when all recognize that everyone is responsible for promoting it. To prevent conflicts and violence, it is absolutely necessary that peace begin to take root as a value rooted deep within the heart of every person. In this way it can spread to families and to the different associations within society until the whole of the political community is involved. In a climate permeated with harmony and respect for justice, an authentic culture of peace can grow and can even pervade the entire international community. Peace is, consequently, the fruit of “that harmony structured into human society by its Divine Founder and which must be actualized by men as they aspire for ever greater justice”. Such an ideal of peace “cannot be obtained on earth unless the welfare of man is safeguarded and people freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their minds and their talents”. (495) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm: 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56
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:
Luke 22:24-27 and 22:25
Jesus refuses the oppressive and despotic power wielded by the rulers of the nations (cf.Mk 10:42) and rejects their pretension in having themselves called benefactors (cf. Lk22:25), but he does not directly oppose the authorities of his time. In his pronouncement on the paying of taxes to Caesar (cf. Mk 12:13-17; Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26), he affirms that we must give to God what is God’s, implicitly condemning every attempt at making temporal power divine or absolute: God alone can demand everything from man. At the same time, temporal power has the right to its due: Jesus does not consider it unjust to pay taxes to Caesar.
Jesus, the promised Messiah, fought against and overcame the temptation of a political messianism, characterized by the subjection of the nations (cf. Mt 4:8-11; Lk 4:5-8). He is the Son of Man who came “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk 10:45; cf. Mt 20:24-28: Lk 22:24-27). As his disciples are discussing with one another who is the greatest, Jesus teaches them that they must make themselves least and the servants of all (cf. Mk 9:33- 35), showing to the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who wish to sit at His right hand, the path of the cross (cf.Mk 10:35-40; Mt 20:20-23). (379)
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 imageof 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 Jn3:16)”. (196)
Does a life of consumption leave us jaded to the primacy of service? Will titles of prestige, benefactor status suffice to massage our ego, give glory to our status? But giving of resources only necessitates a click on a website, signing a check to distance, shield ourselves from others. Service requires looking at someone’s face, hearing their story to understand their needs, holding a hand in prayer as someone moves beyond life in a gang. Service desires not a comfy seat at the table, but helping to set the table so needs of others are fed. Being a servant shrinks not in responsibility, courage, faith or dignity to be a doormat trampled upon, but deflates egos and personal agendas to stand by others in trials. Like sifted wheat, a life of service can test our faith, maybe even cause one to retrench because we have not balanced the gift of faith we received with giving the gift of service to others. A balance radiating joy, lending a witness to strengthen our brothers and sisters, with ears open to hear the truth and a tongue well trained by the Lord to speak healing words. We go forth in service unbounded by possessions or even the sandals on our feet, learning to trust our needs will be met. We cannot deny God’s providence and must uphold His non-violent path we are asked to journey by putting down swords that sever community and compassion. We may cast people into tombs silencing a message, hiding their face from public attention as an alternative to the personal involvement of service. Service does not fear others, but realizes all are our brothers and sisters and collectively through service, we strengthen one another.
Individual Reflection: Luke 22:14-23:56
Reflect on those crucified in your community today and how you might be of service to them. View the Year of Mercy Stations of the Cross: https://peaceonjustice.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/year-of-mercy-stations-of-the-cross/
Family Reflection: Philippians 2:6-11
Ask your parish if the palms used on Palm Sunday are ethically sourced and sustainably harvested. If not, share this resource with the liturgy team to encourage them to use socially responsible palms next Palm Sunday: www.ecopalms.org
Jesus, reflecting on Your journey to the cross wrapped in addressing betrayal, denial, unbelief, help us to dismiss those questionings by enlightening the eyes of our hearts. Lifting the curtain of darkness from our souls, let us affirm your kingdom by serving one another, striving to help people cease from holding onto violence in response to violence. In faith, strengthen us to not stand at a distance from your precepts, but glorify you by engaging ourselves in the work of Your and the Father’s kingdom. In Your dear name Jesus, we pray, Amen.
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By Barb Born March 14, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.