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Palm/Passion Sunday

April 5, 2009

Blessed Palm Sunday!

We are entering into the most holy days of the Church year, intensifying our preparation to unite ourselves with Jesus in His Passion and death as He leads us through tragedy into triumph. You will notice that we do not celebrate any saints this week or next. Nothing may interrupt these high holy days.

The palms we receive today are blessed–they’re sacramentals (sources of grace) that are intended to remind us of Jesus’ victory over sin and death (palms have long been symbols of victory). That means they must be treated with reverence. One common practise is to make crosses of them and tuck these crosses behind holy pictures or crucifixes hanging in your home. Instructions for making simple palm crosses can be found here: http://www.kidssundayschool.com/Gradeschool/Crafts/1craft08.php. If you need to dispose of old palms (or scraps from making palm crosses), they should be reverently burned or buried in a place that will not be disturbed–not thrown away (this is true of all blessed items of devotion).

Almighty, ever-living God,
You have given the human race Jesus Christ our Savior
as a model of humility.
He fulfilled Your will by becoming Man
and giving His life on the cross.
Help us to bear witness to You by following His example of suffering
and make us worthy to share in His resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

Readings:
+Matthew 21:1-11 (Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem)
Isaiah 50:4-7 (God’s noble servant is not deterred by suffering and insult)
Psalm 22:8-24 “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”
Philippians 2:6-11 (because Jesus emptied Himself, God has exalted Him)
+Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Jesus’ Passion and death)

He emptied Himself. (Philippians 2:7)

“Behold, your king comes to you…
meek and riding on an ass” (Micah 9:9)

Oh eloquent beast! Indeed, “the Master has need of it” (Mark 11:3)

“Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3, emphasis added)

Time is eclipsed, telescoped, as the old and new Isaac journey side by side to the same mountain with the same beast of burden, fulfilling the will of the Father. The ass is left behind as both willingly shoulder the wood of the sacrifice, and submit to the execution. “I have not rebelled, have not turned back” (Isaiah 50:5), “obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) At the last moment, the Father steps in. Isaac is spared. Jesus goes on alone.

“My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”

Finally, He hands over the one thing He has left: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46)

Emptiness…a lifeless body hanging on a bloodied tree, buried in an empty tomb.

“Because of this, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name above every other name, so that at Jesus’ Name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!” (Philippians 2:9-11)

We can never go wrong emptying ourselves into the Father’s hands. No investment yields richer rewards.

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