Gospel Reflections

Feast of Palm Sunday

Luke 22:14—23:56

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: March 20, 2016


 Each year when we come to the beginning of Holy Week I wonder how I would have reacted if I were living in the time of Jesus. We look at the events of Holy Week today knowing how the story turns out but what if we had been living in the midst of it? He’s a miracle worker. He’s the crazy son of a carpenter. He’s a blasphemer. He’s the long awaited Messiah. He has faithful followers. The Pharisees don’t trust him. The stories and rumors abound. What is one to believe? “Who do you say I am?”

In our three year liturgical cycle, the church uses the stories of the entrance into Jerusalem and the passion from Mathew, Mark and Luke for Passion/Palm Sunday and saves the story from John’s gospel for each Good Friday. Each Palm Sunday, however, has the same readings from the prophet Isaiah and Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Why?

The entry into Jerusalem is a statement of Jesus’ self-knowledge. Throughout the synoptic gospels we see Jesus coming to know who he is. He first learns from his parents’ stories and their own contemplative experiences (angel’s messages and dreams). Then we see a young Jesus learning from the rabbis and other Jewish elders. Jesus grows in his understanding of his mission and his ministry stories also tell of a man committed to a prayerful relationship with his Abba. He experiences communal support and challenge with his apostles and disciples. He learns from his encounters with those who question him. With each experience he delves deeper into the mystery of his own being.

And then, one day, the time is right. He has studied the scriptures, especially the prophets, and he knows now that they are speaking about him and the reign of God. He knows the desires of Abba’s heart. He knows what all of humanity has the ability to become. He has spoken the words, and he has made people whole again. He has modeled a way of life that leads to oneness with God. He is now willing to make the ultimate gift.

Jesus makes his own decision to ride into Jerusalem, knowing what it is going to mean for him…and knowing what it is going to mean for us. And as incredible as this self-gift is, Jesus knows that it is still our choice to accept it. What more can Jesus do? We have been told – and shown – what is necessary to live wholly, in peace and in love, and in union with God. Paul begs the Philippians to live “one in love, one in heart, and one in mind” because that was the message of Jesus during his lifetime. As you enter into Jerusalem today with Jesus, let it be with your own deeper self-knowledge. I pray that each of us will deepen our own commitment, during this holiest of weeks, to bringing about the wholeness of the reign of God.

 

 

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