Gospel Reflection for Palm Sunday
A lot is going to happen this coming week. Jesus is going to do and say things that will annoy and anger the Jewish and Roman leaders. He is going to do and say a lot of things that will confuse and challenge his closest friends, followers and even his family.
By the end of the week he will share a meal with his family and friends. He will offer himself to them through bread and wine. He will take the place of a slave and do the unthinkable; he will wash the feet of those who are at table with him. After this meal his closest friends will turn their backs on him. Judas will betray him and Peter will deny that he even knows him. A few hours later Pilate will condemn him to death. The soldiers will beat him and make him carry his own cross. On the way to Calvary, Simon will be forced to help him carry this cross. Veronica will push her way through the crowd and wipe his face in a daring act of tender compassion.
I think the danger is that because we read and hear this story every year, we can become used to it and a bit overly familiar with it and what it means to us. The invitation and question that Passion or Palm Sunday puts before us is where am I as Jesus is going through all of this? At the beginning of Lent Jesus said to each of us ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ Am I still walking with him or am I hiding safely at the back of the crowd keeping my distance? Where am I as Jesus carries his cross?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus is the great disciple of Holy Week. She followed him and stayed with him every step of the way. She has the courage, strength and faith to stand with the other women as he died when all the others deserted him. As we begin our own Journey through the dramatic events of Holy Week can we stand with Mary? Can we be inspired by her and so draw courage and strength from her so we too can stay with Jesus?
The journey of Holy Week does not end nor stop at Calvary. But before we can stand at the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene we have to travel with Jesus as he carries his cross and stands on the Hill of Calvary. There is no resurrection without crucifixion. We are not asked to stay at the cross, but we are asked to experience the cross. Then and only then can we share in and experience the joy and new life that God freely offers each us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. If we die with him, we shall live with him. If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him. (2 Timothy 2.11)
Perhaps Holy Week offers each of us the opportunity to hear that invitation that Jesus gave us at the beginning of Lent; ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ This is invitation that Jesus gives to each of us. However, each of have to make our own response? What’s yours?
- Michael Moore OMI