Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reflection for Palm Sunday

What a curious mixture the Mass liturgy of Palm Sunday is! The introductory reminder that Lent is over and Holy Week upon us, the processional entry, symbolising Christ’s own entrance into Jerusalem has an aspect of expectant joy, the Gospel showing us the joyful attitude of the disciples proclaiming blessings on the King. Yet the rest of the liturgy shifts the mood to focus on humility and preparation for that last supper, his last journey, his passion and death. He is, as Isaiah points out the suffering servant and will still be found amongst the little ones of the earth, but because we are a people of the resurrection there remains that ultimate hope which we will celebrate next week at the feast of feasts.

Pope Francis has in so many ways these past few days reminded us of the words of Paul to the Philippians, Christ emptied himself to become as one of us, yet became humbler yet accepting death for our sake so that his name should be known throughout the world and that salvation can come through him. This is at the heart of our proclamation and worship, it is, as we are being reminded what the mission of the Church and the People of God is really about, to proclaim and live the good news, to become servants of one another in humility and love.

As we enter Holy Week it would do us good to mediate on those two first readings from the Mass, not to enter into any maudlin and forced emotional place, but to let the word of God speak to our own hearts, renewing us again. We can all identify with those moments of distress and difficulty, we can also see them in others and recognize the Christ present in our midst but also in our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

The Long Passion narrative from Luke takes us through the dramatic events of those last hours of Jesus, but it doesn’t leave us in a bad place, it takes us through the events of our salvation and reminds us that in our dark times and at our own ending, God in Christ does not abandon us, we can focus on these powerful and hope filled words:’Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’ and the answer, ‘Indeed, I promise you. Today you will be with me in paradise!’

Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Chaplain for the Melkite Greek Catholics in Britain.

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