Palm Sunday's Joys, Sorrows and Calls to Resurrection

Matthew’s Gospel proclaimed for the Eucharist (26:14-27:66)

By Sr. Catherine Cleary, OSB

The spirit of Palm Sunday is usually jubilant. The weather, if we are lucky is warm and balmy.  After Mass there is a joyful spirit in the air; people carrying their palm branches greet one another as they walk down the church steps.  “Hosanna to the son of David, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. This is Jesus, the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee” rings in our ears and hearts. But what about the rest of Matthew’s gospel which we also just heard?

This section, chapter 26, tells of the sadness of Jesus as he anticipates the next day’s events. Two times he calls out, “My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

The remainder of the Gospel describes the terrible suffering of Jesus: the arrest, the denial by Peter, betrayal by Judas, accusation of blasphemy, the spitting,  slapping, tying him, handing him over to Pilate, the stripping, mocking with a crown of thorns, vinegar when he thirsts, and finally, “MY God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I have spent many hours this past week, reading and rereading this Gospel as if I had read it for the first time. I am saddened, horrified, pained and dismayed at the terrible suffering our Lord endured…and for my sake?

Nearly six weeks ago, we entered into the desert with Jesus and now, today, we enter into the Garden of Gethsemane. Here are 3 tough questions to ponder:

1) What sorrows do I hold in my heart right now? In faith do I see life emerging?

2) The nightly news provides words and pictures of the thousands who are dying today. Does my Easter faith believe these suffering will one day rise?

3) How will my Easter faith move from cynicism and apathy to accomplish resurrection for some right now?

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