March 28, 2021 — Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
IS 50:4-7; PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; PHIL 2:6-11; MK 14:1-15:47
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday — the beginning of our Holy Week. Our liturgy starts with the account of Jesus humbly entering into Jerusalem riding a donkey. People put cloaks and palm branches in His pathway crying, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” It is with great joy that Christ was being honored as king, still in the same breath, we are filled with sorrow as we reflect on Christ’s passion and death. Thankfully, we know the glorious outcome of this painful journey. Today, as we read about the climax of Christ’s mission here on earth, we are reminded that He is the Perfect Steward, a model for us all on our stewardship journey.
Our First Reading, from the prophet Isaiah, portrays a suffering servant. The suffering servant, in many ways, foreshadows what Jesus endured during His passion — “I gave my back to those who beat me… my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” Christ endured such tortures, knowing that He did not deserve them, but still He humbly submitted to them.
We see that throughout Christ’s life, His mission as a steward was to fulfill His Father’s mission. He became man for a reason, and He humbly and obediently submitted to that mission for each one of us. We, too, play a unique role in our Father’s mission by bringing souls to Christ. And it simply begins with the witness of our lives. Let all that we do, including the way we speak and act, reflect our mission in this life.
This message is re-echoed in our Second Reading, from St. Paul to the Philippians. St. Paul says, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself… he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” We see again that although our Lord deserved every honor and praise from man while on earth, He chose the path of service and humility, sacrifice and love. He gave us everything in that moment. This truly was an overflowing gift for each one of us. So how can we share our gratitude with the Gracious Giver? We can bring service, humility, sacrifice and love into all areas of our lives — our homes by the way we treat our family members, into our church by the way we welcome and serve our neighbors, and into our workplaces by the way we speak and act.
Our Gospel today shares the account of Jesus’ last days on earth, and how He lives them says a great deal about how we should be living ours as faithful stewards. Jesus does many things in these last days, and they all revolve around prayer and service — two trademark actions of a good and faithful Catholic. He first hosts a Passover meal in which He gives us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He then intensely prays to His Father. Lastly, He submits to humiliation, torture and death for our sake, calling out to God the Father in His weakest moments. We might not be called to the same type of prayer and service, but we are all called to commit time in daily prayer with our Lord, and to serve our families, churches and neighbors in the various ways God is calling us to do so. No matter our state in life, we are all called to be faithful stewards through prayer and service.
As we embark on this Holy Week, let us take some time to reflect on the life of Christ as He is our model Steward, and may we strive to imitate Him daily.