April 13, 2014 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Mt 21: 1-11; Is 50: 4-7; Ps 22: 8-9. 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2: 6-11; Mt 26:14 to 27:66
On this glorious Palm Sunday we rejoice with those who greeted Jesus upon His entrance into Jerusalem, “Hosanna in the highest.” As humble as His entrance must have been (He entered the city riding on a donkey.), the crowd, knowing the Messianic prophecy from Zechariah, produced a festive and glorious scene. Of course, as Catholics, we pronounce “Hosanna” at each and every Mass throughout the year just prior to kneeling for the Consecration: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts … Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” Thus, this shout of Hosanna is repeated by us over and over and over.
However, on this Palm Sunday it trumpets Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem as the Lord prepares to give His life for each of us on the Cross. There is so much meaning throughout our celebration today, so much substance in the readings, that it is almost impossible to truly grasp the totality of it all. Our Lenten journeys are almost over and our exultation on Easter is fast approaching.
The reading of the Passion is central to what we do on this Sunday. For one thing it explains the Eucharist, which is at the heart of our faith. In Matthew’s recounting of the Passion (It is two full chapters in Matthew’s Gospel.) the phrase Son Of God is included four times; the phrase Son of Man is also included four times. Others refer to Jesus as the Son of God; however, He consistently refers to Himself as the Son of Man.
In fact, in the four Gospels Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man more than 60 times. This is significant to our understanding of the Lord’s dual role as God and human. It is as if Jesus wants us to understand that He is human when he calls Himself the Son of Man. Jesus Christ is, of course, conjoined as man and God in one person. In addition, Jesus is consubstantial with God the Father — that is, of the same substance. Palm Sunday is a time when we need to view and accept the Holy Trinity in its entirety.
Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) is a solemnity in the Church. That means it is among the highest ranking feasts in our Church year. According to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship in their Paschalis Sollemnitatis,“Holy Week begins on ‘Passion (or Palm) Sunday’ whichjoinsthe foretelling of Christ’s regal triumphandthe proclamation of the passion. The connection betweenbothaspects of the Paschal Mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.”
As we begin Holy Week and prepare for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter, it is important that we continue to embrace this manifold role represented by Jesus — triumph, joy, death, Resurrection, and salvation. Also, this is a time when we should have a full appreciation of what it means to be a steward — to accept the Lord as our Savior, to recognize that we are gifted, to commit ourselves to sharing those gifts with others, and to take the Light of Christ and bring it to all we know and meet. Now is the time for us to proclaim, “Truly, this is the Son of God.”