On Palm Sunday, we approach the climax of Our Lord’s Mission to save us. He established the One True Church which offers us the fullness of the Truth He brought and the means to persevere in Grace until death. Although God Incarnate, He atoned to the Father for our sins. The Eternal Son of the Father would be, in a ‘rigged’ trial, falsely accused of blasphemy and subsequently Crucified on Calvary. As far as those who opposed Him were concerned, ‘problem solved!’.
Today, at the 11:30 Mass, we begin our Liturgy outside the church and, starting from the hall, we process to the church, commemorating our Lord’s triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Through the words of the Entrance Antiphon, we join the rapturous crowds who, on that day, gave Christ the King a ‘royal welcome’, lauding Him, truly, as ‘…he who comes in the name of the Lord…’, carpeting His route with palms. The Palm Crosses which we receive today should prompt us to contemplate His Offering of His Life in order to restore our Eternity. They should also inspire us to pray that we may offer our ‘Crosses’ (i.e. setbacks and sufferings) which God permits us to bear in this life, in loving union with His Passion and Death, so bringing us to live eternally with Him.
Entry into Jerusalem - from Pietro Lorenzetti’s Assisi Frescoes, 1320
Through the Gospel account, read in the hall (Mark 11:1-10), we follow the final preparations for the Entry into Jerusalem and Christ’s welcome by the crowds, many of whom would later be calling for His Death! How many times have we reacted uncharitably to someone who, perhaps out of loving concern, pointed out our faults to us?
The First Reading read in church, (Isaiah 50:4-7), puts before us Isaiah’s prophecy of the brutal treatment meted out to God Incarnate. While, especially in more anti-Semitic times, the Jewish People were conveniently portrayed as the ‘villains of the piece’, we would do well to consider that each and every one of us, each and every sin committed until the end of time, caused our Saviour to Die.
Through the words of the Responsorial psalm (Psalm 21: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24, response v2) we are privileged to join in spirit with Our Lord, hanging in agony on the Cross, uttering that seeming cry of despair, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’. Just as we must never presume that we can get to Heaven without the help of God’s Grace, neither must we commit the sin of Judas, despairing that God cannot or will not forgive us, if we repent of the gravest of sins.
Saint Paul, writing to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6-11), lays before us true Humility. Christ Himself, Second Person of the Trinity though He is, brought Himself down to our Human level (‘…in all things but sin…’), innocently died a criminal’s death, and demonstrated to us the immense Power of God, Who alone, can triumph ultimately over evil, however crushed we may be by it. We proclaim this truth in the Gospel Acclamation (Philippians 2:8-9).
Finally, in the Gospel (Mark 14:1-15:47), the Passion narrative, we hear of the betrayal of Our Lord by Judas, the Last Supper and first Ordination Mass and Christ’s Agony as He contemplated, in Gethsemane, the horrors of His coming Passion and the sins of all time for which He was to Atone. We stand witness to the desertion of the Disciples, to the sham trial and the brutality of His captors, to Peter’s denial of his Master, and then to the agonising Crucifixion and Death of our Blessed Lord, followed by His Burial in the Tomb.
How obviously do our lives as Catholics demonstrate our Faith and stand as a ‘sign of contradiction’? Do our words and actions show others that we really believe that, ‘Christ has Died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again!’?
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