Palm Sunday: Serious about Following Jesus?


By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

We began this series of gospel reflections noting that Jesus’ particular geographical place helps illustrate his message. The desert, for instance, means barrenness, while the mountaintop means nearness to God.

Today’s Gospel readings move from the entrance to Jerusalem, where children (filled with new life and joy) run to meet Jesus with their palm branches, to the Skull (the place where Jesus – and other criminals – meet their death).

I have never been comfortable with the abrupt mood change in today’s liturgy.

We begin with a joyful procession, holding palm branches and singing, “Hosanna, Hosanna on High!”

But by the end of the Gospel, we are kneeling to the words, “Jesus cried, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. And when he had said this he breathed his last.”

The liturgy mood swings from a glorious, joyful one to a sorrowful one as Jesus dies on the cross.

The mood is even more soul-piercing when we hear the words, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Here, I think is our lesson. If we are serious about following Jesus, we are challenged to do as he did: to forgive, to practice mercy. 

This means forgiving one who offends, criticizes, slanders, and yes, even physically harms us. This is a fraction of what Jesus endured.

Questions for Reflection:

How can you be mindful of being kind, generous and gracious to those who offend you?

How can you help and spend time with the elderly, the weary, the discouraged, the ignored?

How can you transform your Lenten practices into life practices? Writing about the journey can help you notice and continue your deeper prayer life, practice greater patience and kindness, practice mercy toward others.

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