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Each year on Palm (Passion) Sunday we read one of the accounts of Jesus’ passion and death. Since we are in year A of our three year cycle of readings, this year we read Matthew’s account of the Passion.
While each of the evangelists tells the story of Christ’s passion, each one does it from their own perspective. For example, Matthew saw and portrayed Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Further, in Matthew’s account, Jesus’ disciples didn’t come across very well. Not only did they fall asleep during Jesus’ agony in the garden, but they also deserted him. And Peter’s denial of Christ was accompanied by cursing and swearing. Another element unique to Matthew is a more detailed account of Judas’ betrayal and his tragic end. Finally, in Matthew’s account, the Chief priests and Pharisees requested that Pilot help them make sure Jesus’ disciples do not steal Jesus’ body and then later claim that he had been raised from the dead.
Perhaps the most important element that is unique to Matthew, though, occurs when Pilot asked the crowd about the fate of Jesus. Specifically Matthew added the verse that Jesus’ blood “should be upon us and on our children” (Mt. 27.25). Unfortunately, through the centuries this verse --- and others --- have been used to suggest that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. This idea was definitively rejected by the Second Vatican Council in its document: “Nostra Aetate,”
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It is part of the third of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs. In the last four verses of the passage we read this Sunday remind us of the Servant’s trust in God’s ultimate vindication. Certainly this was Jesus’ stance during his passion and death “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. It is a hymn of praise to Jesus Christ, who “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with god something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself………”
Questions for reflection and/discussion:
1. As you reflect on Jesus’ passion, what part stands out for you?
2 Are you challenged in any way by Jesus’ passion?
3. Jesus was able to trust in God the Father, even in his suffering and death. What helps you to trust in God?