Palm Passion Sunday ~ 28 March 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: First Gospel: Mark 11:1-10; I: Isaiah 50:4-7; Responsorial: Psalm 22; II: Philippians 2:6-11; Second Gospel: Mark 14:1 – 15:47
Holy Week begins. This most solemn and holy time of the Christian year is with us already. The immense wealth of liturgy is particularly special this year as last year the sharing of our communities of faith in these sacred celebrations were mostly curtailed as together we journeyed the pandemic trails and trials. But this year we are able to start gathering again. God has graced the medical workers in the vaccine efforts and care for the sick. May God’s blessing rest upon them. This does not preclude our part in responding for the care and good of ourselves and each other. The very real and distinct cross of the Covid virus is still to be shared until full healing is ours from God. As we once again share in these feasts of our worship we are blessed with an abundance of Scriptures. Especially the Gospel readings today and Good Friday may cause some to simply endure the long readings as opposed to actively listening to the Living Word.
Instead of listening with dulled hearts and minds may we seek the Holy Spirit to awaken in each of us the power and promise of our Lord. Let us listen anticipating the power of God to enable our sharing with Jesus in this timeless Holiest of Weeks. May the beautiful and meaningful liturgies, symbols and actions we share be true beginnings in a closer walk with Jesus, crucified and risen.
And we begin this sacred week with Palm ~ Passion Sunday. The first Gospel recounts the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The long second Gospel witnesses His passion and death. It is a poignant summary of all that occurred in our Lord’s Passion and all that can that should be occurring in our lives as we follow Jesus. But let us focus upon that joyful entry of our Lord into Jerusalem as both introduction and preparation for all that will occur with Jesus this week.
As Jesus rode the young unbroken colt of an ass into the Holy City, as the people waved and spread their palm and olive branches and shouted out their “Hosanna’s” before the Messiah we see an exciting and profound witness of the coming of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings for the Jews. But also for the Gentiles and all of creation. Although the miracle was rather small the choice of Jesus to ride into the City of David on a donkey’s colt never before rode ,(as opposed to a great stallion befitting a mighty King) was profound and important. It spoke to the people of that day both of the humility of our Lord but also His power and His relationship with creation. Young colts are known for their energy and spunk. That this animal both allowed itself to be ridden and calmly carried Jesus through the singing, shouting crowds as they tossed branched and robes before them is truly extraordinary.
It also needs to be noted that the donkey is the only animal with the cross on its back. The tradition is that this is a sign and grace, given by God, to these animals for their part in the life and passion of their Creator as they carried Mary, the mother of our Lord to Bethlehem and Jesus Himself that solemn day into Jerusalem.
This humble animal of burden is a lesson and example for us all this holy week. But so are the branches of palms and olive trees waved and spread before God incarnate.
The Scriptures and the saints both recognize and bear witness that all of creation, fauna and flora, bless and praise God. Now, being honest, our science and techno-inebriated culture would dismiss any such concept as allegory or metaphor at the very most.
But I would invite the skeptics to humbly study both Scripture and the saints on this topic. Or even to sit in the garden for a quiet time and simply learn to listen to the witness of creation of our Creator. And for Holy Week it is a message of allowing ourselves the path of faith, the path of the Cross with Jesus. It is about recognizing what our eyes or understanding may not see that, we, in turn, may grow to see what is real.
That Palm Sunday the people of Jerusalem were caught up in what their understanding, their senses saw and heard. Their blessing of Jesus therefore was shallow and sadly temporal. When things did not go as they THOUGHT and expected, they turned against Him. Instead of blessing they cursed. Instead of love they chose hate.
So it is with with us. This Palm ~ Passion Sunday we need to look to creation and to our hearts as we seek to welcome the King of Kings into our hearts and homes. Will we wave the palms and olive branches with all our…understanding and reason? Or will be seek His coming anew into our lives with hearts of faith and blessings of faith? Will we welcome and bless Jesus into the life of our faith community and Church or, as some, with a focus upon problems, divisions and differences? Or upon He who wore the crown of thorns? Will the headlines in our mind speak of politics and schism or Jesus who is SAVIOR and LORD? And will we welcome and bless Jesus into the lives of others per rigid understanding and interpretations of religious teachings or with the living Gospel who came into His Passion upon the back of a young donkey.
This week of very profound and real opportunities of holy joy and redeeming love may we welcome Jesus into our hearts, our Church, and each other as He welcomes us. For is there a better standard?
“Jesus remember us when you come into your Kingdom.”