Pastoral Sharings: "Palm Sunday"

WeeklyMessage Father Alex McAllister SDS
April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and
we begin that great week we know as Holy Week in which
we commemorate the last hours of Christ’s life on hearth
and his glorious resurrection.

We have just read St Matthew’s account of the passion to remind ourselves just what this week is all about and how important it is that we keep this week holy in honour of our Saviour who gave his life for our sakes.

On Good Friday we will hear the same passion story in the words of St John. By publicly reading these two passion accounts and by participating in them we are helping the significance of these extraordinary events to sink home.

They may have happened two thousand years or so ago, but in a certain sense they are happening right here and now.

Today is Palm Sunday and we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of that fateful week. His whole life had been a preparation for this final entry into Jerusalem. It could be said that by entering Jerusalem he was precipitating all that was to follow.

It was a deliberate choice, he was deciding to do what had to be done; he was choosing to fulfil his purpose here on earth.

Jesus enters Jerusalem as a Messiah, but not the Messiah that was expected. Every word of the scriptures is fulfilled but his entry is not heralded by armies angels or soldiers, he is not accompanied by dignitaries and guards. Those who welcome him to the Holy City are not rulers or priests.

No, he comes as simply as he could: he rides a donkey, his followers are fishermen and other simple workers and he is greeted not by the civic and religious authorities but by the common folk waving palms.

In one way everything is done properly and in accordance with what was prophesied, but looking through other eyes it is utterly shambolic and hopeless. The doubters, and those who do not understand, see nothing but a raggle-taggle group of itinerants coming up for the feast. They are blind to the significance of what they see.

But those with eyes of faith see what has been longed for by so many. They see the solemn entry of the Messiah into his Holy City to take possession of it. They see the culmination of the history of the Chosen People of Israel. They see Jesus enter Jerusalem and the stage set for the most climactic and significant drama of all time to take place.

By entering Jerusalem in such a way, sitting on a ridiculous donkey and accompanied by the poor and the lowly, Jesus is making a definitive statement about what kind of Messiah he is.

He is stating that he is a Messiah for the humble and the destitute, the disadvantaged and the outcast, the sick and the lame.

He is stating that he has come to liberate the oppressed, to comfort the broken-hearted and to heal the sick. He is a Messiah who comes to save what was lost, to reconcile the sinner and to lead his people into the ways of peace.

He comes not to rule but to serve; he comes not for glory but for salvation.

Let us rejoice and praise God that he has given us so great a redeemer!

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s passion
Matthew 26:14-27:66
Gospel Summary

Matthew’s passion narrative begins with the plot of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus and continues through the well-known scenes: celebration of the Passover meal; the promises by Peter and all the disciples that they would never lose faith in Jesus; the agony in the garden called Gethsemane; the arrest of Jesus; the abandonment of Jesus by all his disciples; the trial; Peter’s denial of Jesus; the suicide of Judas; Pilate’s release of Barabbas and condemnation of Jesus to death by crucifixion; the torture and mockery by the Roman soldiers; the crucifixion accompanied by dramatic signs of a new age; the burial of Jesus.

Passion Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: No need for the Temple
There are many scenes in the Passion account from the Gospel of Matthew which we have just proclaimed.  This year, a particular scene keeps recurring to me.  The scene is not on Golgotha, but in Jerusalem, in the Temple.  The time in at 3 in the afternoon at the moment that Jesus dies.  The readings said that there was an earthquake, and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two.

Palm Sunday- Victory of Humility
Palm Sunday — When a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion.  Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession.  Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.

After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City.

Scripture Speaks Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday’s Gospel is a drama that is at once both intensely human and profoundly supernatural—the mystery of Christ’s Passion.

Gospel (Read Mt 26:14-27:66)
On Palm Sunday, Catholics all over the globe, in every nation and time zone, in public and sometimes in secret, stand at attention to hear the longest Gospel narrative of the entire liturgical year.  This riveting episode needs no interpretation.  Young and old, male and female, educated and uneducated, sophisticated and simple—all of us are caught up in the story and understand it.  Why is it so universally accessible?

Give God Your Whole Day
Another way to live in the presence of God is to offer ourselves and all our actions to God the Father in union with Jesus crucified. This way of prayer is often called the morning offering. It is more than a prayer; it is really a way of life keeping us in constant touch with God in all our daily thoughts, desires, and actions. Through the morn­ing offering, we walk no longer alone, but in the presence of Christ crucified, whose perfect surrender of His life to His Father we strive to imitate in all our actions.

The Spiritual Liberty of Holy Obedience
Saint Hildegard von Bingen contemplated the origin of evil in terms of disobedience.  Satan believed he could begin what he wished because he presumed he could finish what he had begun.  He invented his own schemes and programs against the plan of God because he did not believe he needed the Lord for his existence.   Because he was not open to God’s will, Satan is entrapped in a lower existence, imprisoned in currents of unredeemable chaos below this world.  Hildegard sees how the Ancient Adversary is at work to lure and coerce into this same pit all those whose lives he invades and touches.

God, the Life of the Soul
God did not make death. On the contrary, he created the rational soul to dwell in indissoluble union with the human body. When the psalmist sang, “A body hast thou prepared for me”, it was as if he had said to the Creator:

Humility Triumphs
When a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion.  Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession.  Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.

After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City.

Pope Begins New Catechesis on Gifts of the Holy Spirit
VATICAN CITY — During his general audience this week, Pope Francis began a new catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, drawing specific attention to wisdom and noting that it illuminates our actions and draws us closer to God.

“We need to ask ourselves if our lives have the flavor of the Gospel; if others perceive that we are men and women of God; if it is the Holy Spirit that moves our lives,” the Pope insisted in his April 5 address.

Audience: Wisdom is seeing with God’s eyes
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis embarked on a new cycle of catechesis this Wednesday, dedicated to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This week the Holy Father spoke to the tens of thousands present in St Peter’s Square about the gift of wisdom. He warned them not to confuse wisdom with knowledge, for wisdom is not born of intelligence, instead it is being able to see with the eyes of God.

Then, Face to Face. Meditation on Our Desire to Look on the Face of God
I have a large Icon of Christ in my room (see photo at right). What icons from the Eastern tradition do best is to capture “the Look.” No matter where I move in the room, Christ is looking right at me. His look is intense, though not severe. In the Eastern spirituality, Icons are windows into heaven. Hence, this icon is no mere portrait that reminds one of Christ, it is an image which mediates his presence. When I look upon him, I experience that he knows me. It is a knowing look and a comprehensive look.

Well Said: I believe in Purgatory
I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. But I don’t think the suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. . . . The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much.

C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

How to Pray When the Words Won’t Come
At some point in life each of us finds ourselves at a loss for what to say to God. It is usually at a time of intense trial.  The pain of disease, agony of loss, or sting of betrayal leave us overwhelmed.  Our sadness and anger are so acute that we feel abandoned, as if God were a universe away.  How do we pray in those moments?  We look to the example of our Lord Jesus, who desires to draw us into his own prayer.

The Mystical Witness of Silence
In my first Aleteia article, I discussed in a general way the role of contemplative monasticism in the life of the Church. In this and in several forthcoming articles, I wish to look more deeply at certain principles of the monastic life and describe how they can be fruitfully applied in ways in the lives of lay people living in the world.

“Silence: More than the absence of speech.”

The Value of Suffering
The Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard, repugnant lesson for our nature, which prefers pleasure and happiness; however, it comes from Jesus, the Teacher of truth and of life, the loving Teacher of our souls, who desires only our real good. If He commends suffering to us, it is because suffering contains a great treasure.

To Follow The Way Of The Cross
There’s a reason that folks get angry when they learn that the reality of the Christian life leads straight to the cross. Remember that time the disciples were arguing amongst themselves about who would be the greatest? And then the Sons of Thunder got their mommy to ask Jesus if they could sit on his right hand and on his left?

Are the Disciples Asleep?
During the last week the battle cry of the proponents of same sex marriage has gone up with a whoop. A chief executive of a major company was forced out of office for a donation to a pro trad marriage campaign. The baying crowd hounded a Catholic nun who dared to uphold Catholic teaching in a Catholic high school. A vice principal fired from a Catholic high school for marrying his male partner has sued the school and the diocese stating clearly that they want to depose the bishop. Others, scenting blood in the affair of Brendan Eich have said they have the list of all prop 8 donors and are “going for them.” Today’s Washington Post–in a balanced article–explains how the Catholic Church is being caught up in the crossfire.

21 Reasons To Go To Confession & Why Catholics Confess Sins To Priests
There are several questions we need to sort through before we get to the reason we all need Confession.

•Is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) necessary to have
  your sins forgiven or can you go straight to God? 

•Why do we need this Sacrament? 

•Where did it come from? 

•What does sin do?

The Absurdity of Evil
One of the most remarkable characteristics of all forms of organic life is the power to adapt itself to the circumstances in which it is placed. It will endeavor under the most altered conditions to live, and, in order to live, it will resort to all kinds of contrivances, sometimes effecting such changes in its outward appearance that none but a trained eye could detect its identity. Yet with all these adaptations, it will preserve its identity.

A Question About the Dead
A reader writes:

Can souls of our departed love ones return to earth to appear to us? I recently lost my 45 year old wife and have been praying for a sign that she’s in Heaven and okay. I’m thinking that Heaven is outside of space and time so would be difficult to “crossover” back to earth. What do you think? What does our church say about this?

Conquer Spiritual Blindness
Jesus the “Light of the world” gave sight to the blind! Spiritual blindness is an extremely prevalent reality. However, spiritually blind eyes can still have their sight restored.

This short article will bring to the light three major reasons for spiritual blindness and then three remedies to conquer this blindness! May Jesus the “light of the world” dispel the spiritual blindness in our souls.

Faith and a New Way of Thinking
Have faith.

But when you are at the lowest of your moods, how do you have faith?  Where does that ability to have faith come from?

A Life of Service and Cheerfulness
God calls us to a life of service for our own good. This was true under the order of original holiness and justice. It remains true despite our subjection to original sin. It continues to be true under the economy of the Redemption, in which we are called to share in God’s own life.

To put it simply, original holiness is the state of friendship with God that he intended for us to be in. Original justice is the state of friendship God intended for us to be in with ourselves, with others, and with material creation.

The Greatest Historical Miracle You’ve Never Heard Of
After Constantine the Great, there were emperors who were heretics and emperors who adhered to Christian orthodoxy.

Then there was Julian the Apostate.

From the time of Constantine to the French Revolution, he is the only Christian monarch ever to openly reject the faith, according to Catholic historian Warren Carroll. For reasons both personal and intellectual, Julian launched the last great attempt to revive ancient Roman paganism. Animal sacrifices resumed in the reopened pagan temples while the Church was stripped of the imperial funds and lands that had been granted under past emperors.

“Jesus’s Wife”: Still Fake
More than 18 months after the mainstream media splashed front pages with credulous headlines about a “new” “gospel” “proving” “Jesus” had a “wife” (and I’ve used up my allotment of scare quotes just writing that much), we finally have the results of testing on the age of the papyrus, and the results are … meaningless, just like this entire story.

Basilicas, Cathedrals, Shrines: The Difference?
Q: I had relatives visiting over Easter, and we went to see the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. They asked if this was a cathedral, and I said, “No.” But then we all wondered: what is the difference between a basilica, a cathedral and a shrine?

Basilica, cathedral and shrine are distinct terms, but not mutually exclusive. For instance, a basilica may be a shrine, and a cathedral may be a basilica. A good description of each one will be helpful.

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