Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year C
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (28)
April 10, 2022
Our Passion narrative today begins, “When the hour came, Jesus took his place.” What hour? What was his place?
It is the hour for his Passion. The place? The place is where God had planned all along for Jesus to celebrate this Passover meal.
Jesus knows what is coming. In fact, He says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” He is eager because He knows it is what the Father has sent him to do. He is eager because He knows what his Passion brings for us, forgiveness and salvation.
His Passion has long been prophesized. In Isaiah we hear of the Suffering Servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me…my face I did not shield.”
Psalm 22 speaks of the one is mocked, his hands and feet pierced, his garments divided. All this is fulfilled in Jesus’ Passion.
To make this happen, Jesus had to first empty himself. He “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” “He humbled himself” to save us, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus was willing to suffer what would seem like defeat on the Cross to save us because He loves us. He does this to untie us from our sins. We should take his Passion lightly.
Today marks Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem. We began with the blessing of the palms, recalling Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem. The people spread “their cloaks on the road” and “began to praise God aloud with joy” with the words, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” These words form part of what we sing in the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) at Mass.
So begins Holy Week.
In today’s Passion narrative we hear much of what we will celebrate in the coming days. On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper where Jesus institutes the Eucharist and the priesthood. As He does so, He unites it to the sacrifice of his Crucifixion on Good Friday when He says, “This is my body, which will be given for you…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.”
So, every time we celebrate Mass, we are celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus giving his life for us.
We call Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil on Saturday the Easter Triduum. It happens over three days but it is one event. I invite you to come each night to experience the grace of what Jesus does for us.
Jesus does this because it is what “has been determined” because Satan attacks us to lead us into sin. We cannot win the battle against Satan on our own. It is not a battle won with swords. What do we need to win this battle?
Jesus giving his life on the Cross is what brings victory over sin.
What Jesus goes through in his Passion was not easy. It was difficult for his disciples to even hear Jesus speak of it. Thus, “he found them sleeping from grief.”
Are you exhausted from battling with sin and suffering? It is time to hand it over to Jesus.
Those who opposed Jesus will arrest him and bring charges against him to Pilate as they seek to have him executed.
The charges. The first is that He opposes paying taxes to Caesar. This is not true. In fact, in Luke 20:25, Jesus says to pay the tax. Pilate finds him not guilty.
They accuse him of maintaining “that he is the Christ.” Actually, He is the Christ. So, He is telling the truth here, doing nothing wrong.
Then, they charge him with “inciting the people with his teaching.” He does not incite anyone. In fact, He stops them when they begin to strike with the sword. He does not incite. What He does do is inspire people. He inspires them with truth and love.
Pilate continues to find him not guilty but consents to his crucifixion to appease the people.
What does Jesus say concerning those who have a hand in his execution? “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They will mock him by telling him to save himself. What does it mean to be saved? The salvation that matters most is not saving our physical lives. It is the salvation of our souls. This is what Jesus offers us.
What are we to do?
We turn it over to Jesus. We pray for an end to suffering but we accept what is the Father’s Will.
May our prayers be like that of Jesus in the garden when He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done.”