With the liturgy of Palm Sunday, the Church begins its holiest week of the year. We enter more intensely into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord. Because the crucifixion of Jesus is intimately connected with our salvation, we hear the passion account twice. This year we listen to both Matthew’s account and John’s rendering of the events.
The reading from Isaiah invites us to trust in God’s invitation to be His servant. Despite any indignities we may endure, God is with us. Paul’s letter to the Philippians reminds us that Jesus became like us in order to show us how to become like God through our obedient love. Finally, the Gospel account from Matthew shows how politics and public opinion weighed heavily in the decision to crucify Jesus. Although he was innocent, the will of a few was able to sway the crowd into calling for his death. Yet, Jesus trusted in God and allowed himself to be killed. When we encounter the hatred of the crowd or the tide of public opinion is against us, the passion account reminds us that God is on our side. Many saints and martyrs who have gone before us show us how to behave in the face of adversity. Although we may feel alone and cry out with Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” God is right alongside of us enduring our trial with us.
This Holy Week invites us to reflect on God’s constant presence during every moment of our lives. In order for each of us to experience the fullness of God’s saving work, I invite you to take some quiet time and contemplate the Passion account. Put yourself in the story. With which character do you identify? How do you feel about the events that are taking place? How does Jesus speak to you as he endures his passion and crucifixion?