On Palm Sunday we will begin Holy Week, the most solemn week in our Church. In the liturgies of this week we will remember the greatest events of our salvation.
Jesus as he prepares to depart from us, leaves with us his sacramental presence in his Body (bread) and his Blood (wine).
Jesus gives to us his priests who will make him present among us.
Jesus leaves with us also his new commandment, the commandment of love: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.
Jesus gives his life for all of us as well as for each one of us, he offers his salvation to us, he gives us again the opportunity to enter into the intimacy with our Father, God and Creator.
FIRST READING – Isaiah 50: 4-7
« The first Reading is taken from the Second book of Isaiah called the Deutero-Isaiah, or Second Isaiah, or Book of the Consolation.
« In this book we find 4 poems called the Poems of the Servant of Yhwh. This servant is a mysterious character that has been identified with the people of Israel, with a prophet, with Jeremiah. It is a individual character, but also a collective character.
« On Palm Sunday we read the third poem, in which the author describes the servant as a prophet, someone called to be at the service of the word.
o The servant speaks and says that he has been given the tongue of a disciple.
o Each morning, as a disciple he listens to know what he has to say
o And thus he will be able to say a word of comfort to the one who is discouraged
o He continues to speak and says that he has not offered resistance when his ear was opened. Why should he offer resistance, is that something dangerous?
o The next verse gives us a clue to understand what the servant wants to tell us
o It seems that to listen to the word and afterwards to repeat this word brings upon him humiliation, mistreatments, offenses; but he says that he does not offer resistance.
o Because the one who helps him is the Lord. The Lord Yhwh has called him, and has given him a face hard as stone to be able to face all the humiliations, that come to him, because of the word heard and repeated.
o Looking at the other two readings of this Sunday we realize that this Servant is Jesus.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 22:8-9. 17-18. 19-20. 23-24
The response will be MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?
ü The response is taken from the first verse of this psalm.
ü Jesus will say these words on the cross
ü Jesus makes his these words pronounced by the psalmist, and by all those who have felt themselves abandoned by God.
ü We must be grateful to our Lord to be solidary with us, with each and every man and woman who has experienced that God is far from him or her, that it does not seem that he listen to us.
ü Jesus has reached the deepest level of suffering.
SECOND READING - Phil 2:6-11
This Reading has two parts: the humiliation and the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
What is that attitude of Christ we are invited to make ours?
Ø Being God he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at.
Ø We know that he became like us in the incarnation.
Ø He humiliated himself and became a slave
Ø Those who saw him, knew that he was a man
Ø In obedience he accepted to die on the cross.
Ø God, the Son of God, the Word, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity has become one of us to teach us how to be human, to obey.
o To obey is the fundamental attitude of the human being, man and woman created by God. The creature is called to be by the Creator
o The creature listens and answers to the call “to be.” This is what obedience means, to do what another person says.
Ø From the cross Jesus teaches us the greatest lesson which we need to learn: to surrender our being, to abandon us in the hands of the Father, in the hands of others, without offering resistance, as we have read in the poem of the servant.
Ø Because being God he wanted to live like us, and to surrender himself into our hands
Ø God the Father has given him a name over any other name
Ø He has the same name as God, at his name all creation bends its knees and proclaims that
Ø JESUS CHRIST IS LORD for the Glory of God the Father.
Ø Jesus, as the servant from the first Reading, has been faithful, knowing that the Father is his help. He trusted in the Father to the end, he surrenders himself to the one who loves him unconditionally.
Ø After his resurrection the first communities said of Jesus the same words that Israel said of Yhwh. They say JESUS IS LORD, which means JESUS IS GOD.
GOSPEL – READING OF THE PASSION ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK 14:32-15,47
We will read the Passion as Mark narrates it
§ We read the Passion according to Mark in the same year in which we read the gospel of Mark on the Sundays in Ordinary time.
§ From the beginning of his Gospel Mark prepares us to understand the deep meaning of the Passion of Jesus and how it is connected to his ministry.
§ During his ministry Jesus will have confrontations with the leaders of his people. He will experience a growing opposition until they will plan to eliminate him.
§ Mark describes the passion of Jesus in its greatest cruelty, making us enter into the darkness experienced by Jesus: his fear, his abandonment, his loneliness, his physical and moral sufferings
§ Mark is the evangelist who has presented in the strongest way the humanity of Jesus.
§ Let us enter into the Passion taking out our sandals, as God asked Moses, because we will stand on holy ground, the intimacy of our dear Redeemer.
§ The four evangelists narrate with a luxury of details the passion of our Lord. The passion according to Mark has 4 parts:
- GETHEMANE: PRAYER AND ARREST (14,26-52)
- THE JEWISH TRAIL/ PETER’S DENAIL (14,53-72)
- THE ROMAN TRAIL (15,1-20)
- CRUCIFIXION, DEATH AND BURIAL (15,21-47)
§ GETHSEMANE: PRAYER AND ARREST
o Jesus is alone, and he will be alone until the end of his journey, all will abandon him.
o Jesus looks for the sympathy of his friends, like all of us when we suffer.
o He leaves the larger group of his apostles at the entrance of the garden, and goes further with his three friends Peter, James and John. These three had been witnesses of the resurrection of Jairo’s daugther, and of the transfiguration.
o He humbly says that he is sad even to death.
o He prays to the Father his Abba, everything is possible for you… if it is possible…. But may your will be done. He repeats this prayer three times.
o Each time he goes to his disciples, and finds them sleeping because of the sadness. Jesus seems to dislike that Peter has not been able to be awaken with him. Peter will not do anything, like the others. The only thing he will do is not precisely something that Jesus had taught him, to cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest.
o When Jesus finishes his prayer he is serene again, at peace, ready to face what may come.
o When Judas comes and kisses him, Jesus does not say anything. At that moment all abandon him.
o Scriptures have to be fulfilled, it means the will of the Father, which he had already let the prophets foresee, is now being fulfilled.
§ JEWHISH TRIAL/PETER’S DENIAL
o Mark presents a great contrast between Jesus actions, and the actions of his disciple, the one who will be the head of his church. The one who once confessed that Jesus is the Messiah.
o Jesus is interrogated by the Sanhedrin, the political and religious authority of Israel. The Romans had given them some functions of authority that they could perform. Peter is interrogated by the servant girl and others outside in the courtyard around the fire.
§ The main accusation against Jesus is that he had said something wrong about the Temple: that if destroyed, he will rebuild it in three days.
§ The Temple is the most sacred reality in Israel, it is the symbol of the presence of Yahweh in the midst of his people
§ Since the accusers did not agree among them, the high priest asked Jesus solemnly if he is the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One. The high priest has the authority received from God thus Jesus obeys him even if the high priest abuses from his authority. Jesus also cannot deny his identity, which the Father repeated to him twice “You are my son, my beloved.”
§ Jesus who had not speak when they accused him, will speak now, he cannot remain silent.
§ Jesus like the Servant of the First reading cannot keep for himself what he has heard from the Father, his deepest identity, and responds I AM. He also adds that they will see the son of man coming in the clouds. The Son of Man has authority to judge.
§ He will be condemned because he has said the truth. He will also be mocked.
o Let us go back to Peter, and see what he is doing while Jesus is saying the truth for our salvation.
§ For three times he is questioned about his identity, his being a disciple of that man from Galilee. His three answers are every time farther away from the truth.
· I do not understand what you are saying.
· The second time he denies again to be a disciple.
· The third time he curses and swears that he has never known that man.
§ The cock crowed for the second time, Peter remembers the words of Jesus and weeps.
§ Thank you Lord for having chosen Peter, such a weak man, to represent you among us, to be the leader of your church.
§ Thank you because we are very weak also, but looking at Peter we may learn to weep.
§ ROMAN TRAIL
o In the morning the Sanhedrin handed over Jesus to Pilate, the Roman Governor.
o The accusation here is not that he made himself son of God, but that he made himself King. Pilate could not accept that because this was against the Roman Emperor.
o Pilate speaks to Jesus, he asks Jesus, but Jesus does not answer him, and Pilate is amazed. Jesus speaks when necessary but not now, because Pilate is not interested in hearing the truth.
o Pilate realizes that they handed him over to him out of envy, but Pilate is a coward and does not dare to give a just sentence, he tries to please and to keep his position of Governor. So he will try to find another way. To liberate Jesus and hand over to them Barabbas a thief and a murderer.
o Pilate is amazed to see that they prefer Barabbas to Jesus. They preferred their own selfishness instead of choosing life. Humankind today is not so different from that crowd which wanted the death of Jesus. We also prefer our selfishness of all sorts over to the truth and to life. We prefer:
§ All our addictions which kill us little by little
§ Our selfishness that kills us and kills others: abortions, euthanasia, pornography, all sorts of new slaveries, abuses of women and children, unfaithfulness in marriage….
§ We scorn, make fun of people that suffer different kinds of limitations. Those we deep call not “normal” as we say we are.
§ We may continue the list on an on, each one of us can do it looking at the prejudices we nurture in our heart.
o Jesus is condemned to death, the most shameful death that the Roman Empire inflicted on the criminals and slaves, on those they considered less than human beings.
§ CRUCIFIXION, DEATH AND BURIAL
o Mark is the only one that presents to us Simon of Cyrene. The soldiers make him carry the cross of Jesus. Jesus is so weak that they think he will not make it to the Golgotha, where they want to crucify him.
o We do not know anything about that man .
§ But we may imagine as it is presented to us in the movie The Passion, that this man did not remain indifferent in this close contact with Jesus, that innocent man condemned to die.
§ To be near Jesus had to change him, as we have changed since the day we encounter our Lord in the journey of our life.
o Pilate put the inscription on the cross JESUS KING OF THE JEWS, probably to shame the people of Israel, look what King you have. Without knowing it, he said the truth. He is the KING OF THE JEWS, AND HE IS THE KING OF EVERYONE, AND OF THE UNIVERSE.
o The people around the cross insult Jesus, but Jesus with a loud voice says MY GOD, MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONNED ME? This is the first sentence of Psalm 22 which Jesus makes his in this hour of darkness; Jesus feels the abandonment from all and from the Father. He does not call him as usual Abba, now in his great suffering he does not feel him as Abba, but not even as a friendly God.
o Thank you Lord because this is the experience of so many innocent people who suffer injustice and are abandoned by their friends and loved ones.
o Jesus dies giving a loud cry. Let us read Joel 2:10-22; 4, 16 to understand what Mark describes.
o Creation feels very deeply the death of its Creator, the Temple is not necessary anymore, Jesus is the true Temple of God,
o The way in which Jesus dies helps the Roman Centurion discover the identity of Jesus. “Truly this man was the son of God. “
o The women who are present look at what is happening, but they cannot get close to the cross.
o Joseph of Arimathea, a rich and distinguished man asks Pilate the body of Jesus. Pilate gives it to him.
o He took him down from the cross and buried him in a tomb.
o Two women look attentively to see where they put him.
o And the body of Jesus is in the tomb waiting for the resurrection.
Blessed be your power and kindness!
Blessed be the Lord!
O! love of God toward your creatures!
O! Word that does whatever it says!
O! Lord may your will be done.
How true it is that no one can make resistance
to the will of God!
Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the
Claretian Missionary Sisters
Blessed may you be, O Lord, for your love and mercy toward me.
Grant me to love and serve you, and help me to make all creatures to love and serve you.
Fire that always burns and never becomes extinguished.
Love of God grant that I may love you.
I love you Jesus with all my heart.
Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the
Claretian Missionary Sisters
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CLARET, Antonio María. Prayers found in his writings
GOMEZ, Margarita rmi. Notes on the Deutero-Isaiah. .
PARIS, María Antonia. Prayers found in her writings.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso. Commentaries on the BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO (BIBLE OF OUR PEOPLE). Ediciones Mensajero. China 2010.