Every day, we need to go to our quiet place...

Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:

March 16, A.D. 2008

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:

Matthew 21:1-11
At the Mass:
Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Reading II:
Philippians 2:6-11
The Gospel:
Matthew 26:14—27:66 or 27:11-54

A reflection on today's Scripture:

Today we begin the most sacred week of the year—Holy Week.

It all begins with the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, seated astride a donkey, with the crowd shouting "Hosanna!" and it ends with the most astounding event in history, the God-man Jesus, rising from a borrowed tomb. He rises with the light shining from the wounds of His horrible passion and death.

As our Savior rode toward His great confrontation with the powers of evil, the words of today's first reading were very possibly in His mind:

I have set my face like flint, knowing that I will not be put to shame.
(Isaiah 50:7)

No, the shame is ours that our sins and those of the millions before us have brought Him to this hour. This is the week for us to bow our heads and hearts in sorrow and compassion as we put aside our daily distractions and focus on the events of the dying and rising of our loving Redeemer. We need to reflect prayerfully on the ancient Christian hymn that forms our second reading for this Mass:

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . .
he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross. (see Philippians 2:7-8)

No wonder every knee must bow at the mention of His name! The early Church fought long and hard to establish the doctrine for all time that it was both God and man that took up that cross for our redemption.

So what is our cross?

It's the cross of responsibilities, the cross of sickness, the cross of loneliness and failure. We gain so much strength to carry those crosses when we take time this week to journey with Jesus to Calvary.

The Church is a master of drama in the liturgies of this week. Through the use of the celebrant and two readers for the Passion this week, and in the voices of the congregation, we all become part of the action. Most of us feel embarrassed to cry "Crucify Him" with the palm branches still in our hands. We feel like hypocrites. Yet it was our sins which brought Him to Calvary.

The Passion Narrative of Matthew is a reminder of the ugliness of sin—Christ's betrayal by Judas, the denial of Peter, the hearings before Caiaphas and Pilate—the awful scourging by the Roman soldiers, the thorny crown jammed upon His weary head, the whip cutting slashes into His flesh, the blood running down his shoulders and back, the cursing by the crowd, the nails tearing through His hands, the thud of the cross into the ground. As He hangs on the Cross, He cries, "I thirst!" How that cry echoes down the centuries as a reminder of His search for our love!

The shock of Palm Sunday's liturgy compresses nearly two thousand years into this present moment. We have no place to hide.

We need to suspend all other activities, quiet our busy-ness, and focus on the events of this week—the local penance services, the Stations of the Cross, the Thursday night adoration and the Good Friday veneration of the Cross.

All this will prepare us for the coming out of darkness into the new fire, the new light, the new saving water of the Easter Vigil—and the Resurrection.

- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
email: pwhitmore29 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Sunday, March 16, 2008

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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