Engaging the Gospel – Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: Gospel – Matthew 26:14-27:66

“Today we are contemporaries of the Lord,” Blessed John Paul II instructed us, “and, like the multitude in Jerusalem, like the disciples and the women, we are called to decide if we are to be with Him, or flee, or just be spectators at His death” (Palm Sunday 2002).

“The palm of triumph and the cross of the Passion: this is not a contradiction; rather, it is the heart of the mystery that we want to proclaim. Jesus gave Himself up voluntarily to the Passion; He was not crushed by forces greater than Himself. He freely faced crucifixion and in death was triumphant” (Palm Sunday 2001).

John Paul further pondered the Lord’s Passion in his apostolic letter On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.

The Son of God suffered to save us from the ultimate suffering — “the loss of eternal life…damnation.” To rescue us from such an unmitigated evil, Jesus “must therefore strike evil right at its transcendental roots,” which are “grounded in sin and death” (14).

Because the Son shoulders “this horrible weight” of our sins, “the entire evil of the turning away from God” (18) throughout human history, “all human sin in its breadth and depth becomes the true cause of the Redeemer’s suffering” (17).

Because Jesus is both God and man, He suffered an agony greater than any other human being is capable of feeling (17). But still “Christ goes toward His own suffering, aware of its saving power,” out of love for each and every one of us (16).

Question for reflection: What would I say to Jesus at the foot of the Cross?