Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
From the proclamation of the Gospel at the beginning of the liturgy, we know that today is different, not only because we hear two Gospel passages, or because we hold palms and process. Today begins Holy Week, a time set apart, a week in which to listen, pray, reflect, and take to heart the truth of Christ’s passion, crucifixion, death, and ultimately, resurrection. It takes a week, and a lifetime, to truly hear the message of Christ’s love. It is difficult for us to comprehend that Jesus willingly sacrificed himself, so we must hear the story again and again. Let this week be for us a new moment of faith in which we, together with the criminal who was crucified with Christ, cry out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus Announces God’s Kingdom of Love
Jesus had walked, healed, forgiven sins, performed miracles, and eaten with the people. His message was simple yet profound: in Christ, the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus announced God’s kingdom of love, teaching all who would listen. In God’s kingdom, the greatest is as the youngest; the leader is the servant. Those who follow Jesus are called to wash feet, attend to the last and the least, show mercy to the sinner, and love enemies. Even in the hour of his passion, Jesus did not turn away from his mission of love. He healed the ear of one who had come to arrest him, did not lash out at Pilate or Herod, consoled the women who wept, and forgave those who crucified him. He heard the cry of the criminal who called out to him from the cross, and promised him a place in Paradise. Jesus shows us that God’s way is the way of love at all costs, even when it means giving more than we think appropriate or possible.
We Share Christ’s Mission
Let us not be mistaken. Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness led him to the cross, and we who follow him will surely experience trial and be misunderstood in our determination to live as disciples. We will be called to make difficult decisions about the way we live our lives, serve others, give of our time and money, show patience, and favor those who are poor and vulnerable. Friends may turn away, family members may question our commitment to Christ above all else. Jesus remained singularly focused on God’s will. And so must we. Jesus gave without counting the cost, and so must we. In Christ, we also have a mission of love. We, too, are called to stay focused on God’s will. In this, we will announce God’s kingdom and be assured of our place in it when Christ returns in glory. In this Holy Week, let us reflect deeply on the mystery of God’s love for us in Christ and renew our commitment to live as Christian disciples in the world.
Today’s Readings: Lk 19:28–40; Is 50:4–7; Ps 22:8–9, 17–18, 19–20, 23–24; Phil 2:6–11; Lk 22:14 — 23:56 [23:1–49]