Sunday 25 March 2018

Palm Sunday 2018

Palm Sunday
The Sixth Sunday of Lent 2018

Most people know this as Palm Sunday, fewer know it as the Sixth Sunday of Lent. Some people call it Passion Sunday, but that name has never been formalized in the Roman rite, even though some other denominations use that title. Historically it has also been called 'Second Sunday of the Passion, and 'Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord'. We are at the midpoint of Passiontide that began last weekend. This week there is a pause in the procession, the Palms are blessed, and the gospel is read. And then mass proceeds, with the Passion reading when the Gospel would normally be read. It provides a lot of readings for the priest or deacon to build the sermon from.

The Gospel read during the procession with palms.

Gospel Mark 11: 1-20 or John 12:12-16
First Reading Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial Psalm 22: 2-8, 16-19, 22-23 Response 1
Second Reading Philippians 2:6-11
The Passion Mark 14:1-15:47

This week's readings evoke both joy and sorrow. Joy at the triumphant entry and the sorrow of the passion. When reading today's passages, I wonder how I would have reacted:

Would I have sung hosanna's or gone about my business?
Would I have abandoned Christ in the garden?
Would I have joined the crowd and jeered Jesus as he was led through the city carrying his cross?
Would I have been the good thief or the unrepentant one?
Or like the centurion would I have recognized that this was the son of God?
Would I have given my tomb, and risked my reputation to take care of the body of Jesus?

We can put ourselves into so many roles in these readings. And many times, I wonder if my reactions would have been different. I believe I would have failed, and failed, and failed again. Like Simon, I likely would have renounced him, but also like Simon I know he is calling me, and he restores me each time I turn back to him. And as such we do turn to him, this week, Holy week we turn to him and the most pivotal event in human history. So we all need to take some time today, and throughout this week, to sit quietly with god. To open our hearts and allow his healing to fill them. I once heard that in a Jewish tradition a young man asked the Rabbi "Why do we bind the word of God to our hearts?" And the Rabbi replied, "So that when our hearts break some small portion of the Word may seep into it." That imagery has stuck with me for years. And that is my prayer as I read God's word, and while at mass, lord seep into the cracks in my broken heart and make them whole, bring me fully alive to love and server you. And this week that is my prayer for you. That you will experience God in a new and vivid way today and at times throughout this week.

Note: as a dyslexic almost every time I typed Palm I actually typed Psalm and had to go back and fix it.

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