Today the Church’s liturgy presents us with a paradox. It speaks of “passion” or suffering, including physical death, while it also speaks of the spreading of palms, a sign of victory and glorified life, and both of these seemingly contradictory themes are applied to Jesus, and perhaps can be applied to ourselves as well.
At the beginning of Mass, we hear the Gospel of Jesus’ triumphant, though gentle and humble, entry into Jerusalem. Yet, that triumph was short-lived, for as we also hear in the very dramatic proclamation of the “Passion,” Jesus would soon endure a most excruciating and humiliating death by crucifixion, the death of a criminal! The Mel Gibson film, The Passion of Christ, graphically depicts the horrific sufferings and death of Jesus.
Jesus is the Servant who in His service of God and people suffers and offers His very life on our behalf. In this, Jesus is the perfect model for all of us to serve God and God’s people, in so far as we can, even if and when it hurts.
At the end of this Holy Week, the high point of the Church Year, Jesus’ passing over from death to eternal life is the promise of our own hoped-for ultimate resurrection or passing over from earthly death to eternal life.
Jesus, Your sufferings out of love for us encourages us to look beyond our own temporal struggles to eternal life and happiness with You and the saints. Amen.
Fr. Ray Doherty, S.S.E. ’51, Campus Minister
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
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website