For this Sunday’s readings Click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
Each year on Palm Sunday we read one of the accounts of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This year we read Matthew’s account. While the accounts of Jesus’ passion share much in common, each one has some unique elements. In this regard, Matthew’s Gospel contains a more detailed account of the betrayal of Judas and his tragic end. Another element unique to Matthew is the request of the Chief priests and Pharisees 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. Also, since Matthew wrote for a primarily Jewish audience, he was writing to convince them that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets’ promise of a Messiah.
Perhaps the most important element that is unique to Matthew, though, occurs when Pilot asked the crowd about the fate of Jesus. Specifically Matthew adds 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,” and more recently by Pope Benedict XVI in his book: “Jesus of Nazareth – Part II.”
For Matthew, Jesus’ death is the result of living a life of forgiving love, and teaching others to follow his way of forgiveness. The question for us is whether we, like Peter, will be able to accept the forgiveness, that Jesus offers, or whether we will be like Judas and not be able to accept that forgiveness.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from that section of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah known as the “Suffering Servant Songs.” We see these words as prefiguring the suffering and death of Christ.
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. It is a hymn to Christ’s divinity. In it he holds up Jesus as one who “became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And “because of this God greatly exalted him……….”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Believe it or not, I once had someone complain about reading the passion on Palm Sunday. They didn’t like it because it was such a “downer.” Why is it important to read the passion on this day?
2. Why is it so hard for us to believe that because of Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven? Or perhaps the question really is: why is it so hard for us to accept this forgiveness?
3. What part of the passion narrative strikes you most deeply?