Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion


Palm Sunday can seem like a study in contrasts. We hear the jubilant account of Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem. Then we listen to the Passion narrative, reminded that Jesus’ kingship bears little resemblance to royalty as we perceive it. He will suffer and he will die. As Paul describes it, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him.” Jesus tries to explain this to the disciples, who don’t fully grasp the events about to take place, instead quarreling over who would be the greatest. Yet even in this chaos of misunderstanding, Jesus continues to teach them, promising that those who stand by him in his trials will join him in the kingdom of heaven. There are certainly times when we fail to fully perceive and understand all that the Lord is teaching us, or why we are undergoing certain trials and difficulties. As we enter into Holy Week, we can ask Jesus to help us understand the meaning of the cross in our own lives, using this time to reflect on the meaning of his sacrifice for each of us.


As we listen to the Passion narrative, we hear Peter betray Jesus, the soldiers jeer at him, and a passer-by being told to carry Christ’s cross. Only Luke’s account describes the two criminals, one of whom demanded that Jesus “save yourself and us.” The second criminal rebukes him, asking Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” After Jesus dies, the centurion glorifies God, a good man takes him down from the cross, the women prepare his body for burial. As we enter Holy Week, we will have time to reflect on Jesus’ last days, but also on the individuals in the crowd the day he died. How did they react? How would we have reacted? What can we learn from the women who stayed beside Jesus, the criminal who looked beyond his own pain and sin to see Jesus as Messiah, and even Peter in his initial betrayal? During the week ahead, we can also make an effort to attend each liturgy of the Triduum, using this time to deepen our faith as we prepare for Easter.


Take time to read the Passion narrative at home. Invite Jesus into your heart. If you’ve fallen a little behind on your Lenten commitments, Holy Week is a great time to hit refresh.

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