Gospel Reflection: Palm Sunday
Malvern Minute

 

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD – APRIL 9, 2017

 At the Procession with Palms the following is from St. Matthew’s Gospel 21: 1-11

The Entry into Jerusalem

When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. And, if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

            “Say to daughter Zion,

            ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass,

            and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 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.”

And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

Such dramatic contrast is created between the Gospel passages associated with Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem and the reading from the Passion Narrative during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass this weekend.   The drama and radical contrast is not a theater device used by the Church.  It is a divine revelation concerning the fracture of the heart of humanity.  The joy-filled enthusiasm with the Procession of Palms reflects humanity’s desire to be close to God, to follow in His ways.  However, the hate-filled cries in the Passion Narrative of Palm Sunday and Good Friday also reveal the heart of humanity.   Every human heart and soul is locked in an intense tension as Saint Paul describes:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the   willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I    want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am           doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin       which dwells in me.…        (Roman 7:15)

Do you recognize this deep-seated tension in your heart and soul?  It exhibits itself in what we do and what we fail to do.  When we recognize this tension and the sin that dwells in us, we are in a position to embrace Jesus Christ as our ONLY savior because we know well we cannot save ourselves or win for ourselves eternal life!

 

Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew 27: 11-54 (Shorter)

Jesus Questioned by Pilate

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” But he did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Sentenced to Death

 Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called [Jesus] Barabbas. So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you, [Jesus] Barabbas, or Jesus called Messiah?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed him over.  While he was still seated on the bench, his wife sent him a message, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man. I suffered much in a dream today because of him.” The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus. The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They answered, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!” When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

Mockery of Soldiers

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.  Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

Way of the Cross

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.  After they had crucified him, they divided his garments* by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And they placed over his head the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. Two revolutionaries* were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left.  Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, [and] come down from the cross!”  Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So he is the king of Israel!   Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.   He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.

 Death of Jesus

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”* which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”  But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.  And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.* The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.  And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

The Gospel of the Lord

            If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts!

ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST

(Luke 5: 17-26).    Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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