Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Isaiah 50: 4-7

Today’s reading draws from the third “Suffering Servant” poems in Second Isaiah. Christian tradition views the servant as Jesus. Part of the power of these servant poems is the mystery of the servant’s identity, which allows the servant to stand for all those who have suffered injustice yet stand peaceful and firm in their commitment to God and in their vision of a just world.

Philippians 2: 6-11

The hymn in today’s reading from Philippians is one of the oldest texts in the New Testament. According to traditional biblical scholarship, the hymn describes how Christ self-empties, not of his divinity but of his status of glory. He then humbles, or literally “humiliates,” himself through incarnation and crucifixion. The humble one is then exalted and adored by the entire universe in his new title as Lord.

Luke 22: 14 – 23: 56

Our long reading for this day draws us into the passion. In his conversation with the two criminals, which is recounted only in Luke, Jesus states that the thief who asks Jesus to “remember” him will be with Jesus in paradise and will share in his glory that very day. These are Jesus’s last words to another person before he dies. In beating their breasts, Luke shows that the crowd is already partly converted.

The long account of the Christ’s Passion similarly invites us to see ourselves mirrored in the cast of characters. As you meditate with these texts, with whom do you identify today?

Jesus is our model for discipleship. In what ways do you witness the sufferings of Jesus? How do his sufferings echo in our own lives? during moments of humiliation, how are we looking to the Lord God, who is our help?

Do you ever feel as if you are abandoned by God? Do you cry out in lament when you find yourself amid loneliness or despair? What words could you use?

At Mass this weekend we carry palms, remembering the ancient custom of enacted in Jerusalem as the people laid down palms on the road to acclaim Jesus as the prophet from Nazareth. But in your heart, what are you laying down to honor him?