This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday, and the readings reflect that emphasis. The Readings begin with the Processional Gospel, John 12:12-19. This is the evangelist John’s account of the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem the week before the crucifixion. Listen to the praise of the crowd as Jesus came into Jerusalem: Hosanna (originally the word “hosanna” meant “Lord save”), Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel. The people expected Jesus to come and drive out the Romans and establish a theocracy in Jerusalem. Notice that Jesus came into Jerusalem humbly, riding on a donkey, not on a powerful horse. He made a statement – His kingdom is not about worldly power, but about humble service; humble service that would take Him to the cross five days later.
People were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, and would be there for several days. I wonder how many people who greeted Jesus with these words of praise on Palm Sunday stood in the crowd just a few days later calling for His crucifixion? We are horrified by that thought, yet how often do we praise Jesus with one breath, and then turn against Him in another? How often do we sing His praises, but later vileness issues forth from us?
The First Reading is recorded in Zechariah 9:9-12. The prophet Zechariah set the stage for Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem over 500 years before it happened. Notice how Zechariah’s prophecy foretold exactly what would happen. The Messiah (Jesus) would come into Jerusalem as a humble servant, yet as One Who rules throughout the earth. Through His death and resurrection Jesus is the victorious Lord of all, yet He rules in humble love, not in oppressive power.
As you read the psalm for today, Psalm 31:9-16, note the anguish in the life of the psalmist, note how those who should support the psalmist have all turned away. As we begin this Holy Week, remembering Jesus’ bearing our sins and suffering on our behalf, read the psalm as if this were the prayer of Jesus. Notice how the psalmist continues to trust in the Lord, even though all have turned against Him – just like Jesus.
The Second Reading is thought by many scholars to be an ancient hymn of the Church, one of the first hymns of the Church. I wish we had the music, it would be wonderful to sing this hymn as our ancestors in the faith did so long ago. Notice what this passage says about Jesus, what He gave up for our sakes, what He endured to redeem us, and that because of His sacrifice and resurrection, overcoming sin, death, and the devil, He is given the Name above all names. Notice that all beings throughout the creation will fall on their knees and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. As Christians, we too will be among those who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, but as Christians we have the privilege of also proclaiming Him as Savior. Let us share the Gospel of Jesus with others so that they too will proclaim Him to be both Lord and Savior.
The Gospel for today is the Passion account of Jesus. It is a long Gospel, Mark 14:26 – 15:47. I would encourage all of us to read and meditate on this Gospel during this Holy Week.