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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sixth Sunday of Lent - Palm Sunday (Matthew 26:14-27:66 Liturgical Year A)

Palm Sunday

Liturgical Year A 2011, 2014, 2017 (Matthew 26:14-27:66)
Liturgical Year B 2012, 2015 ( Mark 14:1-15:47)
Liturgical Year C 2010, 2013 (Luke 22:14-23:56)

It was nearing the Feast of Passover when large crowds of pilgrims swelled the population of Jerusalem from a city of 60,000 to 300,000. The leaders of the Jews and the Romans were on edge, the time was ripe for rebellion. It was the 10th of Nisan, the day that every Jewish family “must procure for itself a lamb”… “without blemish” (Exodus 12:3,5) in accordance with God’s command to keep a memorial feast, “which all your generations shall celebrate”… “as a perpetual institution.” (Exodus 12:14)

It was on this day that Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives riding on a donkey, as prophesied by Zachariah 9:9 in 520 B.C. Jesus, the perfect lamb without blemish, presents himself to the crowd for inspection. On the 10th of Nisan the crowd will spread their cloaks and palm branches on the ground and hail Christ as prophet (Matthew 21:11) Five days later they will be calling for him to be crucified. (Matthew 27:23)

In his Palm Sunday homily in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said, “It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday as we go up the mountain with Jesus, towards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent. … But what are we really doing when we join this procession as part of the throng which went up with Jesus to Jerusalem and hailed him as King of Israel? Is this anything more than a ritual, a quaint custom? Does it have anything to do with the reality of our life and our world? To answer this, we must first be clear about what Jesus himself wished to do and actually did…

He was making his way towards the common feast of Passover, the memorial of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and the sign of its hope of definitive liberation. He knew that what awaited him was a new Passover and that he himself would take the place of the sacrificial lambs by offering himself on the cross.

He knew that in the mysterious gifts of bread and wine he would give himself forever to his own, and that he would open to them the door to a new path of liberation, to fellowship with the living God. He was making his way to the heights of the Cross, to the moment of self-giving love. The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being…

Our procession today is meant, then, to be an image of something deeper, to reflect the fact that, together with Jesus, we are setting out on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God. This is the ascent that matters. This is the journey which Jesus invites us to make.”

Our Lenten journey continues as we begin Holy Week, celebrating the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Our week, like that of the Hebrews of Jesus’ time, will begin with a joyous procession on Palm Sunday, and end as did the Hebrews of Jesus’ time with the Crucifixion, death and burial of Our Lord.

This Paschal mystery of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, which we begin today, is the center of our faith. It is truly a mystery to us how in the providence and infinite wisdom of God, without interfering with the freedom of men, he directed the course of human events, allowing the passion, death and resurrection which would result in the continual presentation of Jesus as the perfect lamb without blemish, perpetually in heaven to the Father.(Revelation 5:6)

Christ who loved us to the end, (John 13:1) is our redeemer. Let us continue our journey “on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God.” Jesus invites us on this journey and he will be there to guide and lead us, thanks be to God.

For items related to the Catholic Church
please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures
Entry into Jerusalem - Duccio di Buoninsegna
Entry of Christ into Jerusalem - Pietro Lorenzetti
Adoration of the Lamb - Part of the Ghent Altarpiece

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