Sunday Reflections – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Today we make our spiritual ascent up to Jerusalem not as spectators but as faithful participants because we are disciples of the Lord Jesus.  We trace His steps and with Him triumphantly pass through the City gates. Today’s Liturgy, especially with its ancient tradition of a procession, (normally observed here at St. Francis de Sales)
invites us to commemorate the messianic entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Again, not as mere onlookers but as participants today and so we mark the beginning of Holy Week and enter more deeply into the saving mysteries that enliven us even as we live our lives so many miles and centuries away from that Jerusalem event recorded in the
Gospel accounts.  The Church takes the opportunity of today’s liturgical pageantry to connect the dots for us and teaches us that each time we pass through the doors of the Church (the threshold of salvation), the real sign of the heavenly Jerusalem among us, we are made co-partners with Him in the work of our redemption.  This is especially true when we are immersed in the Paschal Mysteries of our faith as realized in the celebration of the seven Sacraments.

I have been your pastor long enough that you might recall my “warning” at this time of the year.  I strive to demonstrate that these aren’t plays or empty re-enactments that we, as a Church, are about in Holy Week.  These dramatic scenes aren’t “performed” for our entertainment.  Rather, they are real, essential and life-sustaining movements for us who are brought to newness of life by the suffering, dying and rising of Jesus.  Today our world, and even our Country, is in the grip of tremendous suffering with the COVID-19 pandemic and perhaps it is much easier for all of us to relate to Jesus as the Suffering Servant prophesied in the first reading of today’s Mass and the responsorial psalm.  In fact, the Passion narrative given in Matthew’s Gospel account today may be even more palpable for us this year.  Holy Week, in all its theological movements presented throughout the upcoming sacred days, depicts the exultation of Christ accomplished by His humble obedience to the Father in offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice made once for all.  This is the point of today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

A phrase uttered by all of us in the Creed we profess every Sunday, “For us and for our salvation”, should be taken to heart as we witness the depths of His love for us within the celebrations of Holy Week.  Therefore, let’s open our hearts to this magnificent work of salvation unfolding before us and begin our spiritual journey up to Jerusalem, the City of the Messiah, the Way of the Cross, the cradle of our salvation accomplished on Calvary’s Mount and gloriously manifested with power on Easter morning with Christ’s Resurrection.