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April 2, 2023–Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion(Cycle A, Yr. I)

Community Word: Jesus Christ, the Living Hope, leads us to eternal life.
Theme: We have hope for eternal life when we unite our suffering with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Promise: “The Lord is my help, therefore I am not disgraced…I shall not be put to shame.” (Is 50:7
Passion or Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the heart and center of the Christian year. Jesus’ public ministry is drawing to a close. For three years He proclaimed the Good News to the poor and sinners alike, rescuing them from the clutches of disease and evil, and enabling them to begin new lives. As we start the Holy Week, we are led to reflect on the passion, death, and the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in keeping up with the theme for this week – We have hope for eternal life when we unite our suffering with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we find great encouragement and inspiration in the passion of Jesus, knowing that he suffered greatly. In obedience to the will of the Father, he died for us to show his love for the Father and for each one of us. Certainly each of us has burdens to carry, but what matters is our attitude towards our suffering. Let us bear our crosses patiently, seeing them as hidden blessings from God, in the ways we can improve our life and overcome our insensitivity, while drawing closer to our loving Father who directs every step of our life.
The gospel of Matthew gives us vivid details of what happened on Palm Sunday – the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. We may have things to say against the people during the time of Jesus, even against his apostles. But are we really different from them? Do we not see ourselves in some of the characters present before and during his trial, passion and death? Do we not see ourselves in the weakness of Peter who boasted to be faithful to Jesus, but later denied him when he felt pressured? Do we not see ourselves in the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees? Do we not see ourselves in the indecisiveness and ungratefulness of the crowd who were easily swayed to “crucify him,” but earlier worshipped Jesus for healing them of their diseases? Do we not see ourselves in the cowardly behavior of Pontius Pilate who, for his self-interest, would rather have nothing to do with Jesus?
We can readily put ourselves in the shoes of the crowd and the apostles. Like them, we change our attitude towards God depending on our convenience. We say ‘yes’ to Him and follow His path, but at the slightest distress and pain, we are quick to give Him up. We are obedient to His will one day and defiant the next day. It is time to remember that God remains faithful despite our inconsistency. Though He is saddened by our unfaithfulness, He continues to be patient, waiting for the moment when we willingly acknowledge and obey His commandments.
We wonder what the source of Jesus’ strength was during His passion. He prepared for it for most of his life. His character was formed by constant prayer and in the sacred writings. These were the great source of his strength and wisdom, enabling him to overcome with dignity everything he was subjected to. In like manner, these are also the source of our strength and wisdom when we face all the challenges of life as Jesus did.
We all suffer humiliation every now and then. The next time it happens to us, let us remember that Jesus was humiliated and disgraced more than he deserved. There is nothing that we suffer that Jesus did not undergo. He knows and understands perfectly our feelings of shame and embarrassments. But he gives us peace in the midst of fear – “There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear,” (1Jn 4:18). Let us turn to him during such times and courageously walk by his side, carrying our crosses as Jesus carried his, with generosity and gentleness of heart. He has given us this promise for the week: “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I shall not be put to shame,” (Is 50:17).
Where will you be during the Holy Week? Will you be found in the company of Jesus in the consolation of his grace? Will you have space during this week to allow the passion of Christ touch you with mercy? During Holy Week and every day in our faith journey, let us continue to ponder the ways by which we can “live and declare the works of the Lord” (Ps 188:17).
Almighty Father, give us the gift of final perseverance, that like Jesus we may come to the end of our lives faithful to where You have called us to be, and enter the promised Jerusalem as he did, knowing that we come in Your name. Amen.
Reflection Questions:

  1. How can you imitate Jesus’ humble obedience especially during the Holy Week?
  2. In the likeness of Christ, how should you accept the challenges and burdens of life that God allows to enter your life? Do you accept suffering as a blessing of love or as a punishment?
    This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
    April 2, 2023 (Sun) – Is 50:4-7/ Ps 22:8-9, 17, 20, 23, 24/ Phil 2:6-11/ Mt 26:14-27:66
    April 3, 2023 (Mon) – Is 42:1-7/ Ps 27:1-3, 13, 14/ Jn 12:1-11
    April 4, 2023 (Tues) – Is 49:1-6/ Ps 71:1-615, 17/ Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
    April 5, 2023 (Wed) – Is 50:4-9/ Ps 69:8-10, 21, 22, 31, 33, 34/ Mt 26:14-25
    April 6, 2023 (Thurs) – Is 61:1-3, 6, 8-9/ Ps 89:21, 22, 25, 27/ Rv 1:5-8/Lk 4:16-21
    April 7, 2023 (Fri) – Is 52:13-53:12/ Ps 31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25/ Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9/ Jn 18:1-19:42
    April 8, 2023 (Sat) – Gn 1:1-2:2 / Ps 118:1-2,16-17, 22-23/ Rom 6:3-11/ Mt. 28:1-10
    “Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”

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