April 2, 2023
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Year A)
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” Matthew 21:8–9
Holy Week begins. What an important week that we begin to commemorate today. The Scripture passage above comes from the Gospel that is read at the beginning of Mass to commemorate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the Passover. That year, Jesus was to become the new Passover Lamb Whose blood was shed for us all and Whose flesh we now eat. Today’s Liturgy of the Word concludes with Matthew’s version of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest and death on the Cross. Since we are blessed to read this narrative in full detail today, it is helpful to call to mind the Church’s understanding of the Word of God.
“When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #29). This is an important lesson to learn, especially today as we read the heart of the Gospel in detail. Though Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, His last supper, arrest, mock trial, suffering and death on the Cross happened 2,000 years ago, those historical events are made present to us today in a unique and real way. By participating in the proclamation of this Gospel at Mass today, we are mystically united to this saving action of our Lord. And though our minds might wander at times, God is truly present to us if we listen and see.
As you begin this Holy Week, try to walk through it with Jesus every step of the way. As you go about your days this week, fulfilling your normal duties in life, remind yourself of the spiritual truth that because the full Gospel of Jesus’ passion and death were proclaimed to you today, He is manifestly present to you in a special way. On Holy Thursday, we will ponder the Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. On Good Friday, we will hear Jesus’ passion proclaimed from the Gospel of John. Thus, this week begins with the proclamation of the Passion and ends with the Passion as a way of drawing us more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s saving Sacrifice.
At the heart of the story of the Passion of Jesus is the manifestation of a love like no other. The love we witness this week is a love that is so pure, so selfless, so sacrificial and so transforming that it is beyond comprehension. The love that we witness is one in which God permits Himself to enter the deepest humiliation ever seen. He does this so that He can meet us in our lowliness, sin, and fallenness, and raise us up to the highest heights imaginable.
As we enter this Holy Week, know that it is more than a week of reflection. It’s a week of participation in the mystery of God’s pure and perfect love for you. As you reflect upon this love, allow it to confront you. Keep it on your mind and heart throughout the week. Allow that love, offered some 2,000 years ago, to become truly present to you so that you will be more present to our Lord and His love for you.
My saving Lord, You entered this week of Your Passion with courage and determination. You freely chose to embrace every suffering and every humiliation You would endure so that You could enter my life more fully. Please be present to me throughout this week and help me to not only ponder this mystery of Your love but to also encounter that love in a real and transforming way. Jesus, I trust in You.
40 Days at the Foot of the Cross:
A Gaze of Love From the Heart of Our Blessed Mother
Reflection Thirty-Seven – The Earth is Shaken
Scripture Meditations for Lent
Saint of the Day – Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday
Featured image above: Entering Jerusalem with glory. Serbian icon, via Wikimedia Commons