“Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord,” the formal title for this Sunday, expresses the conflicting moods of the first day of Holy Week. And its sudden red after the somber violet of the Lenten Sundays is a visual shock alerting us to the profound mystery that joins those conflicting moods together: triumphant joy and bitter suffering. There is the joy of the exultant crowd at the Entrance Rite, but there is also the ominous reaction in the city: “the whole city was shaken and asked, ‘Who is this?’” Then there is the cry of the crowd during the reading of the Passion: “Let his blood be on us and on our children”; but there is the wondrous irony that turns that indictment into a prayer: “Yes, indeed! Let his blood be on us and on our children!” There is too much to that profound mystery (the mystery that joins this day’s conflicting moods), too much for one day to express, let alone resolve. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord is but the first day of Holy Week. And Easter is the Eighth Day. It is only by looking back from Easter to today that we can know His Passion was indeed a triumph, His defeat (it seemed) was a victory, this mocked king was true king, and His Cross was a throne.
In that faith, today we welcome Christ not only into Jerusalem but into us: “O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors. Let Him enter, the king of glory! Who is this king of glory? He, the Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory” (Psalm 24).
Fr. Richard Berube, S.S.E. ‘66, Saint Michael’s College Edmundite Community
Procession Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66 or 27:11-54
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website