BULLETIN: April 10, 2022

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Palm Sunday

One of the best ways to remember something truly important is to set it to music. It can be easily recalled and sung by heart and passed on. As you focus on the scriptures for Palm Sunday, it might be helpful to think of them as past, present, and future versions of the same story. In Isaiah, we hear one of four hymns referring to the “Suffering Servant” that paints a poignant picture prefiguring Jesus’ crucifixion. “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.” Psalm 22’s refrain is some of the last words spoken by Jesus on the cross. The Philippians hymn is one of the most beloved and poignant passages ever, “Christ . . . becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” All of these are songs, hymns to be remembered.


DO YOU KNOW THE STORY?

We might assume that we know the scriptures and tend to tune out something as difficult to comprehend as the Passion of Christ. What we often end up doing is taking all four of the Gospels and sort of mixing the accounts into one story. The theologian Gerhard Lohfink called this “making Gospel Soup.” Today’s Passion is from the Gospel of Luke, and there are some elements that are very different from Matthew and Mark (the other synoptic Gospels read in Lectionary years A and B), and John’s Gospel text which is always proclaimed on Good Friday. Let’s look at the elements that are specific to Luke as we break the Passion into five sections.


THE LUKAN PASSION

Lord’s Supper (22:14–38) Luke portrays Jesus as fiery and working for justice, both in his passion and in his ministry. The Passover feast is a very special time for the disciples, and while they are being commissoned, it is clear that they do not understand yet how they will carry on; Jesus warns them to protect them from evil.

Mount of Olives (22:39–53) Luke’s Jesus doesn’t seem as desolate as in other accounts about his imminent death, and goes to pray in regular fashion. He calls out his betrayer by name, hinting at foreshadowing of knowledge.

Peter’s Denial – Sanhedrin (22:54–71) One can see the special care Jesus takes for Peter, and the scene takes place in the courtyard where Jesus was earlier abused as prophet.

Trials before Pilate and Herod (23:1–25) In this account Pilate and Herod both proclaim Jesus to be innocent, and this heals a “rift” between them. Jesus is good even to those who maltreat him.

Crucifixion, Death, and Burial (23:26–56) There are no soldiers; it is the chief priests who take Jesus to Pilate. Jesus’ words on the Cross are kind: “Father forgive them.” In Mark’ Gospel both criminals mocked Jesus, but here one of them begs forgiveness, and Jesus grants him salvation. Jesus’ last words show a sign of trust: “Father, into your hands . . .” May we also place our trust in God as we enter into Holy Week.

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]


Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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