In most churches prior to the beginning of the Palm Sunday mass, the congregation will hear the reading of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem. He is welcomed with joy, exaltation and acclaim as the crowd spreads their cloaks and branches on the road. The crowds cry out: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” But this excitement quickly turns to shock and horror as we enter more deeply into today’s mass readings, especially the gospel that describes the suffering and death of Jesus.
In the first reading from Isaiah, the suffering servant, is aware that God is present during all experiences of suffering. In Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, it is clear that Jesus’ humility and obedience are consistent at the time of his suffering as they were during his whole life.
These readings provide an understanding for what we will hear in the gospel. Jesus’ awareness of what he will soon experience should prick our consciences because of what we continue to contribute by our weakness and sinfulness in our world each day. As you listen to this long gospel, try to place yourself in each scene (last supper, Gethsemane, crucifixion) and think about what you may have contributed positively or negatively.
During this holiest of weeks, take some extra time for reflection on your life and your relationship with God. Many of the emotions connected to the readings may be a real part of your life experiences as well. Think about the times you may have been fearful, angry, emotionally upset, lonely, stressed out. Other emotions may come to you during your reflection. How do you deal with them? Does the reality of Jesus experiencing them help you in your own struggle? Maybe your emotions are not negative. You may be looking forward to Easter and the joy and renewed life you have. Look at the cross and determine its importance in your life, whether negative or positive.
Out of great love, Jesus gave his life for us. Let the cross be a reminder of that great gift. You and I are loved every day of our lives without reservation!
How do you make Holy Week different from other weeks of the year?When will you take time to reflect on these readings and their meaning for your life?