Although most everyone calls today Palm Sunday, today is properly called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. In the opening Gospel we recall the wonderful account of Jesus entering Jerusalem. We get to get to celebrate, wave palms, and greet the Messiah. It is a moment of joy.

It is all rather short lived. Not only in history, but in our liturgy, too. As soon as our entrance procession is over, the readings take on a decidedly different tone. There was a time when I thought that reading the Passion was jumping the gun a bit. I mean, won’t Good Friday arrive in its own good time? Can’t we let the week unfold, walking the journey with Jesus as he spends the week? Can’t we wait to hear about the Last Supper, the betrayal, Gethsemane, the trials, Pontius Pilate, scouring, the crucifixion, and Jesus dead, laid in a tomb? What is the rush? Continue reading

The opposition grows

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

The first sign of opposition to Jesus in Jerusalem arises in the response of the Pharisees to the phenomenon of Jesus’ approach to the city. Continue reading

The King

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The kingship motif that is implicit in the details of the processional entrance to this point becomes explicit in the praise of the multitude: “Blessed is the king….”  The verse is drawn from one of the Hallel psalms (Ps 118:26), which was used to welcome pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals. Luke, however, has added both the royal title “the king” and the last couplet. The use of the title contributes to the kingship motif developed by the acclamation of Jesus as the “Son of David” in Jericho (18:38–39), the parable of the greedy and vengeful king (19:11–27), and by the overtones of the entrance procession. The last couplet echoes the words of the heavenly host at Jesus’ birth (2:14). Now, Jesus is hailed as the bringer of “peace in heaven” and “glory in the highest heaven.” Jesus’ reign as king will bring shalom on the earth and glory to God. Continue reading

The entrance procession

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Each year we read a different gospel at the beginning of this Mass as we follow the Lectionary cycle. Mark, Matthew and Luke all have accounts – John too – and all are similar, none are identical. The differences are sometimes just that, differences, but sometimes there is a point the sacred author is making that is brought out in the differences. In the Lukan account we read: Continue reading

Approach to the City

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Luke portrays Jesus’ entry into the holy city in four scenes (vv. 28–48), the first two concerned with the acquisition of a colt for the short trip from the Mount of Olives to the city and the entry itself (vv. 28–40). These two serve a common theme—namely, Jesus’ royal personage. As will become evident, the whole process from obtaining a colt to the crowds’ proclaiming Jesus king is wrapped in the eschatological expectation and scriptural allusion (esp. Psalm 118 and Zech 9:9). Continue reading

New Lukan Themes

Earlier today a post gave the context of the Lukan narrative in which the entrance into Jerusalem marks the end of the travel dialogue. Every end is then a new beginning and so too here. In the chapters that follow mark a transition in themes that Luke emphasizes: Christology and Discipleship, Division in Israel, and Universal Salvation. The insights are from the scholar Joel Green. Continue reading

Palm Sunday: context

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. It is often popularly called “Palm Sunday” but it is a Sunday in which there are two gospels proclaimed. At the entrance procession in Year C of the Lectionary, the Lukan account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is read. In the Liturgy of the Word, the Passion Narrative is proclaimed. Continue reading

St. Clare of Assisi

In the last several articles we have described the brothers who gathered around Francis and committed themselves to his way of following Christ. Two of the earliest arrivals were Leo and Rufino.  The first became Francis’ chaplain and confessor, as Leo was an ordained priest already. Rufino, a lifelong confidant and wisdom figure for Francis, was also the first cousin of an aristocratic woman of Assisi, the niece of Monaldo, lord of Coriano.  Clare di Favarone di Offredicio was a woman from the very class of landed aristocrats that the young Francis had imitated and longed to join socially. Continue reading

Entry to the Heart of Holy Week

Back in the day, two friends and I started a business. The company was a good mix of skills, dispositions, and work ethic. One of the partners, Jack, was the best project manager I ever encountered. His staff loved him and the clients always wanted to know if Jack was managing their particular project. We had one client in the mid-west that made a very large contract contingent on Jack being the manager. That was fine. Jack had a demand of his own – and it was non-negotiable.  The client waivered, but Jack held firm. He was clear, convicted, and certain: no matter what, he would be attending the Summer Olympics and the World Track and field championships. That was his non-negotiable: his vacation. Continue reading

Holy Week begins

Next Sunday is the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here. The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website.

The climactic events that have been repeatedly predicted since the Galilean ministry are now about to unfold (12:38–40; 16:4, 21; 17:12, 22–23; 20:17–19; 21:38–39; 23:32). Jesus was aware of the forces arrayed against him (26:2), yet he did not resist doing the will of the Father despite the suffering that would be involved (26:36–46). Ironically, the very religious leaders who opposed and sought to destroy Jesus were the unwitting instruments God used to fulfill his plan to exalt Jesus. Continue reading