One gift our Palm Sunday worship offers is the reminder that no barrier exists between us and God. Jesus knows us, treasures us, and saves us, no matter the abuse or hatred we have endured or the sins we have committed. Though Jesus is blameless, he accepts punishment for us. Our readings today invite us to imagine ourselves in any of the situations described, and know that our Lord has also been in that place. Isaiah mentions someone who is well spoken as well as someone who is weary, abused, and discouraged. Philippians highlights the two natures of Jesus Christ: the human, which we know intimately, and the divine, which makes Jesus uniquely worthy of adoration and praise. The Gospel invites us to imagine ourselves as any of the characters we see: corrupt or pure, doubting or faithful, abusive or suffering. Our Lord knows all these experiences and offers salvation.
THE WORD OF GOD
Jesus is the Word of God. When we read the scriptures, then, we are literally having a personal encounter with Jesus. That’s why spending time with the Word of God is such a wonderful way to pray. Today’s Gospel, the Passion of Christ according to St. Matthew, encourages us to spend time with our Lord in his most difficult moments. As we read and pray, we can imagine Jesus sitting beside us. We can speak to him as our wise and treasured friend. Jesus is fascinated by our lives and loves to hear us joining our own experiences to his.
Jesus gathers his friends around the table for supper. We think of our own experiences with friends and family around dinner tables, or of times when we went without either food or companionship.
- Your Last Supper reminds me of a time . . . [continue in your own words]
- What was that evening like for you, Lord?
Jesus knows his closest friends will betray, abandon, and deny him. We recall lonesome times in our own lives, or times we sinned against friends.
- Your story brings back hurtful memories, Lord . . .
- Speak to my heart, Jesus. Share with me your agony.
Jesus listens to the crowd clamor for Barabbas. We think of people who have been preferred over us, or times we have maneuvered to be first among many.
- There are dark places in my heart, Lord . . .
- You knew the hearts of those who scourged you, Jesus. What was it like to forgive them?
Beaten, exhausted, and hanging between two criminals, Jesus dies. We remember times we have suffered or accompanied others in their pain.
- I feel sad, Lord . . .
- You prayed for me personally in your final moments, Jesus. How can I thank you?
Today’s Readings: Mt 21:1–11; Is 50:4–7; Ps 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24; Phil 2:6–11; Mt 26:14 — 27:66 [27:11–54]