This Palm Sunday begins our Easter Holy Week as we walk with Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem—his triumphant entry into the city, his passion and death and, as we Christians know, his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. On Holy Thursday, we will commemorate the Last Supper and the washing of the disciples’ feet. At it’s conclusion, Jesus will ask, “Do you realize what I have done for you? . . . I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:12, 15) Then on Good Friday, we will hear the Passion of our Lord. As Jesus draws his last breath on the cross, he utters, “’It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over his spirit.” (John 19:30)
In our first reading for Palm Sunday (Isaiah 50:4-7), we hear part of Isaiah's lament of the suffering servant, which so fittingly foretells the passion that Jesus will endure. Persecuted for his righteousness, he does not flinch. “My back I gave to those who beat me . . . my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not is graced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
In our Epistle reading (Philippians 2:6-11), St. Paul reminds us of the humility of Jesus, the meek and humble servant, coming in human likeness. Because of this, Jesus is greatly exalted by the Father.
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Our Gospel reading (Luke 22:14 - 23:56) is St. Luke's account of the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. He then stressed with his disciples the importance of servant leadership, “Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.”Jesus forewarns Peter of his coming denial. After supper, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives to pray, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.
Then came his betrayal by Judas, his arrest and trial before Pilate, Peter’s denial, and his violent scourging, mockery and crucifixion. As he hung, dying on the cross, he pleaded with his Father, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” At his death, Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Lent is a time for reflection. We urge you to take the time in prayer to read Luke’s full Gospel account of the passion before attending Mass so that you may more fully enter into the mystery of our Lord's gift of self to us.
May we not pass this opportunity to reflect deeply on the mystery of God's salvation gift to his beloved and our response to that gift.
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Holy Thursday Mass
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Good Friday Service
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday
  • CLICK HERE for the readings for Easter Sunday Masses