A Palm Sunday Challenge

crucifex and palm

By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

The liturgy for Palm Sunday has always shaken me.

We are jubilant as we enter the church, processing, carrying psalms and singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel. Hosanna.”

We stand for the Gospel of Matthew which tells of the joyful crowd coming to meet Jesus riding a donkey, carrying psalms. The people preceding and following him cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he.”

It seems triumphant. Ecstatic.

But the middle of the celebration, when dining with his Apostles, Jesus suddenly says, “Someone here will betray me.” The mood changes.

Typical of any one of us in the same situation, the Apostles ask, “Is it I, Lord?”

It is puzzling to hear Judas ask the same question when we know the rest of the story.

Historians tell us that Jesus and Judas were friends. They laughed together; Jesus enjoyed Judas’s jokes. Now Jesus replies, “You have said so.”

Before we condemn Judas, we need to ask ourselves a few questions:

When have we betrayed someone who loved us?

When have we broken a solemn promise?

When have we valued something – money, power, prestige – more than a loved one?

For Holy Week:

Christ emptied himself for others, for you and me. Jesus’s love for us continues, despite our failures.

Can we – will we – respond to the invitation to change as we follow Jesus’s path this week?

1. What can we change in our lives so we, too, can empty ourselves of everything that would cause us to choose something temporal over love?

2. How can we deepen our love for everyone, no matter their failures and shortcomings?

3. How can we really become who we are called – by Jesus – to be?

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