Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

 

yelena-cherkasova-the-entrance-of-the-lord-into-jerusalem-undated
The Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, art by Yelena Cherkasova

 

 

Cycle C: Luke 22: 14 – 23, 56


Today’s gospel is the Passion according to Saint Luke.


 

One of the priests executed during the Mexican Revolution was Miguel Pro. A famous photograph of his execution shows him with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. The government took the photograph, mass produced it, and distributed it among the people as a means of both mocking the Church and showing people who was in charge. But within a year, the government banned the photo because it had become an icon of adoration among the Mexican people.

Where does real power reside? Pilate’s statement, “Do you not know that I have the power to release you, and the power to crucify you” is an illusion, for Jesus laid down his life of his own free will. At times, power seems to lie in the hands of the rulers of this world, but in due time, the truth emerges that it lies in the hands of God.

One of the truths embedded in the Passion of Jesus is that the reality of any given situation comes to light in God’s time. What looked like defeat on Good Friday was disclosed as the triumph of God’s love on Easter Sunday. The import of this truth for our lives is that no act of love is ever wasted. Every time we do the will of God, in spite of all appearances, we contribute to the redemption of the world. We may never see the positive impact of our good deeds; nevertheless, if they are acts of Love they are guaranteed by God.

“Love,” writes Evelyn Underhill, “after all, makes the whole difference between an execution and a martyrdom” (55). If the Crucifixion had not been an act of Divine Love, it would have been no more than a routine execution in a remote corner of the Roman Empire.

The same is true with us. Because we are members of the Body of Christ, whenever we unite our actions with Christ upon the Cross, they are redemptive. Love transforms the banal actions of daily life into divine deeds that plant the seeds of God’s transforming love in our world.

 

~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

 

The Sign of the Cross

The lovers of Christ lift out their hands to
the great gift of suffering.
For how could they seek to be warmed and clothed
and delicately fed,
to wallow in praise and to drink deep draughts
of an underserved affection,
have castle for home and a silken couch for bed,
when He the worthy went forth, wounded and hated,
and grudged of even a place to lay His head?

This is the badge of the friends of the Man of Sorrows:
the mark of the cross, faint replica of His,
become ubiquitous now; it spreads like a wild blossom
on the mountains of time and in each of the crevices.
Oh, seek that land where it grows in a rich abundance
with its thorny stem and its scent like bitter wine,
for wherever Christ walks He casts its seed
and He scatters its purple petals.
It is the flower of His marked elect, and the fruit
it bears is divine.

Choose it, my heart. It is a beautiful sign.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D. 

 

 

cross and purple roses
By artist Debi Coules

 

 

Wishing you all a very blessed Holy Week!

 

 

 

Palm Sunday: Jesus, The Humble Messiah


Saint Mark’s rendition of the triumphant procession into Jerusalem emphasizes Jesus as a humble messiah (Mark 11:1-10).


Christ entry into jerusalem by oleksandr
A Humble Messiah,  art by Oleksandr Antonyuk

The ashes placed upon our foreheads on Ash Wednesday do not have a single meaning. They can symbolize our mortality  (“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”) or our need for conversion (“Repent, and believe in the gospel”). The ashes may also represent illusionary dreams that have come to nothing, for they are derived from the palms that we carry in procession on Palm Sunday.

On the first Palm Sunday, the people lined the streets to cheer as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as a conquering hero, their messiah, who they believed would free them from the tyranny of Rome. They were blind to the meaning of the prophetic sign of a king astride a beast of burden, a symbol of a humble, peaceful, monarch. In T.S. Elliot’s words, ” We had the experience but missed the meaning” (The Dry Salvages,” 39).

We too misconstrue the events of our lives because we interpret them through the lenses of our needs and desires. Like the people in today’s gospel, we can project our need for deliverance upon others. For example, the desire to possess the perfect mate who will eradicate all loneliness can transform a person in one’s imagination into a god or goddess. But all our gods and goddesses are mere mortals. And when they disappoint us, we cast them down from their thrones. Our cheers of “hosanna” quickly become jeers of “Crucify him. Crucify him.”

So many relationships collapse and fall asunder because they are built on sand. Aristotle believed that true friendship is rare, that is, a relationship based upon desiring the Good for the other. Unfortunately, he wrote, the majority of what people call “friendship” is not friendship at all, but a relationship of convenience or self-seeking in which a person is pursuing his own advantage. “That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often within the same day.” (263).

How many times have we believed people to be our “friends” only to discover that we were being used? How often have we used people in the same way?

~ A Meditation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

The entry into Jerusalem art by Mikhail Nesterov 1900
The Entry Into Jerusalem, art by Mikhail Nesterov (1900)

“O Jesus, I contemplate You in Your triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Anticipating the crowd which would come to meet You.
You mounted an ass and gave an admirable example of humility in the midst of the acclamations of the crowd who cut branches of trees and spread their garments along the way. While the people were singing hymns of praise. You were filled with pity and wept over Jerusalem. Rise now, my soul, handmaid of the Savior, join the procession of the daughters of Sion and go out to meet your King.
Accompany the Lord of heaven and earth, seated on an ass; follow Him with olive and palm branches, with works of piety and with victorious virtues.” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, what bitter tears You shed over the city which refused to recognize You! And how many souls, like Jerusalem, go to perdition on account of their obstinate resistance to grace! For them I pray with all my strength. “My God, this is where Your power and mercy should be shown. Oh! what a lofty grace I ask for. O true God, when I conjure You to love those who do not love You, to answer those who do not call to You, to give health to those who take pleasure in remaining sick!… You say, O my Lord, that You have come to seek sinners. Here, Lord, are the real sinners. But, instead of seeing our blindness, O God, consider the precious Blood which Your Son shed for us. Let Your mercy shine out in the midst of such great malice. Do not forget, Lord, that we are Your creatures, and pour out on us Your goodness and mercy” (T.J. Exc, 8).

Even if we resist grace, O Jesus, You are still the Victor; Your triumph over the prince of darkness is accomplished, and humanity has been saved and redeemed by You. You are the Good Shepherd who knows and loves each one of His sheep and would lead them all to safety. Your loving heart is not satisfied with having merited salvation for the whole flock; it ardently desires each sheep to profit by this salvation… O Lord, give us then, this good will; enable us to accept Your gift, Your grace, and grant that Your Passion may not have been in vain.

~ Prayer by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magadalen, O.C.D. 

 

Wishing all of you a very blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week!