HOLY WEEK, PALM SUNDAY
(Blessing of Palms) Gospel: Mk 11:1-10 Hosanna, in the highest heavens. The Messiah prophesied comes riding on a colt. He comes bringing blessing. Hosanna, in the highest heavens.
Reading 1: Is 50: 4-7 We hear Isaiah’s prophecy on the Servant of the Lord, who willingly gives himself over to the suffering his enemies plan for him.
Reading 2: Phil 2: 6-11 St. Paul summarizes Christ’s life: He was God but humbled himself and became man, obediently accepting death and in the end being exalted.
Passion Narrative: Mk 14:1 – 15:47 We hear the detailed description of the Passion of Jesus as seen by Mark.
KENOTIC (SELF-EMPTYING) LOVE OF CHRIST
Today, as we celebrate Palm Sunday, our hearts are filled with both joy and pain – joy at the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, pain at the knowledge of what was waiting for him there. The very crowds who were celebrating and witnessing the triumphant entry would also witness his excruciating suffering and death orchestrated by the very people who claimed to be God’s own. The atmosphere that was filled with joy and jubilation would soon turn to that of grief and sorrow. And therefore, during the Palm Sunday liturgy, we begin with a joyful procession towards the altar, and later, during the liturgy of the word, we also hear the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first reading from the book of Isaiah and the second reading from the letter to the Philippians together sum up the passion narrative that we read in today’s Gospel. The readings today, do present to us the pain and suffering of Lord Jesus, but all the more, they portray to us the humility of Jesus; who inspite of being omnipotent submits himself to all the insults, torture, suffering and finally to death, that came his way. Jesus, being God himself, chose to bear all this so as to clear the path for us to eternal glory and redemption. And therefore, on this day we are called to reflect on the passion of the Lord, and likewise to imitate him in his humility. Jesus, the King of the Universe, in all humility emptied himself, and we too are called to do the same.
- He emptied himself of heavenly glory to be born as one like us.
- He emptied himself of royal dignity to be born in a manger.
- He emptied himself of all the luxuries of world by spending his life in the service of his people.
- He emptied himself of life itself when he willingly accepted the cross.
- And finally, he emptied himself of every drop of blood as it gushed forth from his pierced side.
What greater act of humility can one exhibit than by giving one’s own life for the sake of his people, including those who had condemned him to death. The fulfillment of this self emptying act of the Lord was seen when he gave himself up on that cross for our sake. He has set for us an example that we may imitate him and walk the way he has shown us towards heavenly glory.
We are inclined to be weighed down by an inordinate number of materialistic attachments. The general principle that guides the mentality of the world is that ‘the more one has, the happier will one be’. But this is just an illusion, because we all know through experience – ours and that of others, that happiness is not measured by the number of things or the amount of money that one possesses, but upon what one can give of oneself to make this world a better place. Itis not about how much we can fill our lives with but about how much we can empty ourselves of all that the world has to offer.
This we know because the Lord himself has revealed it to us through his very example. And for this self-emptying process, one requires to imbibe the virtue of humility. Because only by being humble can we, like Jesus, accept the sufferings and sorrows of our life with grace, and journey towards eternal glory.
Let us then remember, that this Holy Week, which we begin with a joyful procession honouring the Lord, also ends in a similar note with the glorious celebration of his resurrection. The earthly glory is temporary, being often overshadowed by suffering, sorrow and death; the glory that will shine forth on the day of our resurrection instead, is everlasting, and nothing can take that away from us if we remain steadfast on the path towards it. This is revealed to us in the life of the Lord, and if we are to hope to receive this eternal glory from him, then we too ought to walk on the self-emptying path shown by him.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24 My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
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