Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
April 1, A.D. 2007
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Luke 22:14—23:56 or 23:1-49
A brief reflection on today's Scripture passages:
The waving of palm branches and the cries of “Hosanna to the King!” usher in the holiest week of the year.
The full drama begins with the crowd’s fickle acclaim of Jesus as King for a day. It is a foreshadowing of the blasphemous mockery the soldiers will hurl at our thorn-crowned Savior a few days later. And yet, for a few hours we can raise our voices joyfully with the crowd, linking with the honor given by a crowd, especially by the children, with His ultimate victory beyond the grave. We wonder and rejoice as the veil is raised to permit a glimpse of Jesus, the Messiah and liberator. But then, as the Palm Sunday Mass proceeds, the horrors of the Passion are proclaimed, and we must with reluctance raise our voices with the crowd clamoring “Crucify Him!”
How could events have accelerated at such a dizzying pace between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday? The forces of darkness were never more vicious in their attempt to terminate the Mission of Jesus on this earth. That the religious leaders of the day were made instruments of evil is a tragic lesson to all religions, even to the present day. That these leaders scandalized their own people, making them agents of falsehood, is another warning to those of unwary and careless piety. How easily the righteous can be lulled into blind activity that can do harm! We wonder if any of the many that Jesus healed in his journeys were among those crying out against Him.
The Passion narrative is the most powerful story ever written about the sacrifice of the innocent to evil, and the blind consent of crowds to those in power. In this year’s narrative according to St. Luke, the Roman Procurator three times declares the innocence of Jesus, and so does Herod Antipas, the Jewish tetrarch of Galilee. Finally, the “good” thief declares Jesus innocent, and begs Jesus to bring him along to Paradise.
Holy Week offers us the opportunity to personally suffer and die with Jesus for the sinfulness of our world—the sin of the past which seems so remote, and the sin of our present which is all too real, and, in our fear, threatens to overwhelm us. We often cannot understand our own behavior. We fail to carry out the things we want to do, and find ourselves doing the things we hate. Henri Nouwen has said, “Our lives are always busy. They’re like over-packed suitcases, bursting at the seam. We never seem to fulfill all our obligations."
Holy Week is all about Jesus suffering for our inadequacies and for our very real sins. Holy Week is a time for us to realize what we’re really like, and to find that the only remedy for our pains and fears is love. I suggest that as soon as possible, you obtain a copy of the new Apostolic Exhortation by our Holy Father in which he calls the Holy Eucharist the Sacrament of Love. It would make good reading for this Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It’s available on the Internet in several languages.
Are we ready to join our own pains and fears to the Master’s, and to add as much love as we can possibly muster to His limitless love? If we can, we are guaranteed a great Holy Week.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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