Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – April 14, 2019

PalmC19. Isaiah 50:4-7. This is the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, probably Isaiah speaking of himself but in Holy Week transferred to Jesus. “My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”

Psalm 22. Jesus repeats the first verse: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” while on the cross as if to start saying the whole psalm. “All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: ‘He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.’” Jesus genuinely feels the excruciating pain of his body and the insults. This is not a sham sacrifice to the Father for our sins; this is the real thing wholly and completely. By this genuine sacrifice of himself to His Father, we are redeemed. It could be nothing less. How great is his love for us! In spite of the unfathomable horror he is enduring, he never losses faith in the Father, saying to him, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Luke 22:14 – 23:56. Jesus, referring to the sacrifice he was about to make, offers up in the Eucharistic form his own body, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” Although the bread visually appears to be only bread, it now comes in substance to be his body which he himself offers up and commands us to do likewise in our Mass. Jesus continues the tradition of the Old Testament Law of consuming the flesh of the sacrifice by those who offer it up. Leviticus 7:6 reads, “All the males of the priestly line may partake of it; but it must be eaten in a sacred place, since it is most sacred.” Leviticus 7:15a says, “The flesh of the thanksgiving sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered.” The sacrifice on the cross happened then once and for all; the Mass re-presents that same sacrifice over and over again. Please read John 6:53-57. Jesus becomes the food and indeed the spiritual life itself of our being. “Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. Jesus makes it clear to them that service, love in action, is the measure of greatness. He proclaims to them they will have a special place in his kingdom in heaven. In the Our Father prayer Jesus teaches to pray, “Thy kingdom come” to God the Father, which I believe calls upon the Father to establish his kingdom here in the hearts of those who believe in his Son Jesus. Both Pilate and the ‘good thief’ find that Jesus is not guilty of any crime. Nevertheless Pilate allow Jesus to be put to death, since it was politically expedient not to have news of a big riot get back to the emperor. On the other hand, the ‘good thief’ rebukes the other crucified thief out of respect for what is righteous. As with the Apostles, Jesus rewards him with a place in heaven. That is the same reward that we seek because of our loyalty to Christ our King. We want to live eternally in the love of the Christ who loved us so deeply and dearly that he died for us on the cross.

Philippians 2:6-11. God, though magnificently almighty, out the depths of his love for the human beings he created, became a creature of his own creation, a helpless fetus and then infant, genuinely and totally dependent upon another creature, his mother Mary. “He emptied himself,” taking on humanity so that one day he could offer himself as the redemptive sacrifice on the cross. “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”