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Palm Sunday

March 24, 2013

Opening: Now we enter into Holy Week, the week leading up to the central celebration of our Christian faith. Do you have any family or personal traditions around Holy Week and Easter? How might you mark this week as a special week in your life of faith?

Gospel: We are reflecting here on the Gospel at the Procession with Palms which opens the Palm Sunday celebration. Read it through slowly a couple of times, thinking about these questions

  • What image from the Gospel story stands out for you?
  • What verse or verses are important to you? Which ones invite you to further reflection?

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethpage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, "Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
'Why are you untying it?'
you will answer,
'The Master has need of it.'"
So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
"Why are you untying this colt?"
They answered,
"The Master has need of it."
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
"Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest."
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
"Teacher, rebuke your disciples."
He said in reply,
"I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!"

Luke 19:28-40

Reflection: It was an early Spring afternoon, and I was parked in the back of the school waiting to pick up my younger daughter who was in Kindergarten at our Catholic school. When the bell sounded, Catie came running to the car excitedly waving a drawing she had done that day. "I know what day Sunday is," she announces as she gets in the car. "Oh really," I respond, only half paying attention as I try to pull out into traffic. "Yes!" she says. "It's pom-pom Sunday because all of the people were cheering for Jesus. And at the next red light she showed me her picture: sure enough, people are waving gold and maroon pom-poms at Jesus as he rides by on a donkey. Clearly, she had been to enough BC sporting events to know how to cheer for someone!

And that is how Holy Week begins, by a retelling of the story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The crowds were excited as they travelled to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover and those travelling with Jesus would have shared in that energy. In Luke's Gospel the preceding chapters had told of his journey to Jerusalem. And now they have arrived with exultant cheers.

But, we know this doesn't end well for Jesus. Within a short period of time the same group that cheered with him at the entry into Jerusalem will be calling for his death or scattering in the face of it. What brought about this change? What contributed to the atmosphere that allowed those plotting against Jesus to have their way?

If we continue reading in Luke from the entry into Jerusalem to the beginning of the Passion Narrative, so Luke 19:41 through the end of chapter 21, we find multiple ways in which Jesus spoke truth to those in power: the cleansing of the Temple (19:45-48), the parable of the tenant farmers (20:9-18), the denunciation of the Scribes (20:45-47) and the foretelling of the destruction of the Temple (21:5-6). In each case Jesus spoke of the truth that he knew and in so doing further enraged those who opposed him.

Lived faith: Take time during Holy Week to read Luke 19:41 through the end of chapter 21. Select one or two of the stories to reflect on during the days leading up to the Triduum. In what ways are the stories speaking truth to you and your life?

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