Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Dear All,

My child recollections of Palm Sunday are about incredible swing in mood.  I have memories of great joy during the entrance procession.  The Gospel of Mark telling us the secretive story about the two disciples fetching the not yet broken in colt and then Jesus’ triumphant entrance in Jerusalem with the people crying out “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” is followed by a glorious entrance into the church with people waiving branches.  Incidentally, “Hosanna” is the Greek rendition of the Hebrew phrase Hoshi’a-na which means “Lord, grant salvation” that comes from Psalm 118 recited during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.  The people were celebrating the Lord’s entrance spreading cloaks and leafy branches on the road.  From these leafy branches comes our tradition of palm leaves, that are blessed with holy water during the entrance into the church, we take into our homes.

While I was ready for a big celebratory mass, I remember when I was a child to be wondering why the First Reading had a sad undertone.  The passage is from one of the Servant Songs from the Prophet Isaiah.  In our Christian tradition Jesus is understood as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the suffering servant, who speaks seemingly resigned to the suffering he experiences.  The servant is a disciple speaking the word of the Lord to those who are weary and receiving guidance from the Lord each morning.  He is faithful despite those who mistreat and do harm to him.  He does not despair, even in the midst of his suffering, for he acknowledges the Lord as his help and protector during times of trial.

My mood swung into total sadness during the Gospel account of the Lord’s passion.  Long before the Gospels were ever put into writing, they were told as stories and that is how they took shape.  The earliest and most frequently told story was about Jesus’ death, about that last hours of his life on the surface of this earth.  There are nine scenes in Mark’s Narrative:

·         Jesus’ anointing with perfumed oil at the House of Simon the leper, in Bethany.

·         The last supper foretelling his betrayal and instituting the Eucharist at a place shown to two of his disciples by a man carrying a jar of water.

·         Arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (after three of his closest disciples, Peter, James and John fell asleep several times when Jesus went off to pray, accepting God’s will after asking for the cup to be taken away from him).

·         Jesus on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin

·         Denials of Peter (“Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times”).

·         Trial before Pilate and Mocking of Pilate’s soldiers.

·         The way of the Cross to the place of Golgotha, which translated means Place of the Skull.

·         The Death of Jesus (Mark records Jesus’ last words crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

·         The Burial of Jesus.

Today I reflect about my child memories, when Jesus’ death, like the death of any loved one, meant the end of everything, and realize that therein rests the great mystery of the Good News… but that is the Easter story, for which we’ll wait until next Sunday.

We wish you a Blessed Holy Week and pray for you to find some quite moments during the Paschal Triduum. 

The complete text of the readings can be found at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,


1 comment:

  1. I find your reflections very inspiring and personal and feel deeply touched.