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  • Writer's pictureFather Puddleglum

Palm Sunday - A

We experience a severe juxtaposition in this Mass. At the beginning of the liturgy, we hear about Jesus’ triumphant and glorious entry into Jerusalem. The crowds wave palm branches – an expression of joy and celebration. They lay their coats and cloaks on the ground acknowledging His authority and kingship. They shout “hosanna to the Son of David!” They acknowledge Jesus’ kingship. Then we move through the Mass and quickly transition to our Lord’s passion. The palms have all dried up and are blown through the streets of Jerusalem. No one lays their cloaks on the ground for Jesus. Instead, He is forced to wear a purple cloak in mockery of His sovereignty. There is no golden crown but only a crown of thorns, no golden scepter but rather a reed placed in His hand and used to beat Him. He is scourged with whips and forced to carry a cross. Above the cross is inscribed “Jesus the Nazarean King of the Jews.” Such a drastic change in only 5 days. And yet even the cross Jesus retains His power and kingship. He allows the crucifixion to take place as part of His plan to destroy death and defeat the powers of hell.

Without eyes of faith it is easy to view the crucifixion as a failure of Jesus. However, He loses neither His power nor His glory. Instead, He shows us the kind of king He is. He is a king who is willing to take on our suffering. He is a king who, as St. Paul says, “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And because of this, God exalted Him and used the cross to defeat death and show the glory of Jesus. Jesus is not just a friend or a loving savior. He is king who has power and sovereignty over every aspect of our lives.

Yet He is not a tyrant who strips away our autonomy and freedom. He offers Himself to us as a king but we can choose to shout “hosanna!” or “crucify Him!”. However, it is in our best interests to submit to His kingship. Only there will we find fulfillment and happiness. To reject Christ only brings misery.

As we enter into Holy Week, we ought to take stock of our lives and identify any areas of our hearts where we have not submitted to Christ’s rightful kingship. We are fickle, shouting “hosanna!” one day only to crucify Him with our sins the next. The Christian life is a struggle to submit to the reign of Jesus, to recognize His glory and allow Him to reign over every aspect of our lives. The Christian life involves putting to death our sinful tendencies so that we might rise with Christ. Msgr. Ronald Knox admonishes us:

“We must enter into the joys of Easter by entering into the sufferings and death of Christ. Entering into them, not by way of artistic appreciation, not by merely feeling sorry about it. We were buried with Christ in our baptism; we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Our business this week is to associate ourselves with Christ’s Passion, to unite ourselves with the dispositions of will and purpose with which he emptied himself, annihilating himself, in our name. Self has to be dragged out and crucified” (Stimuli, 41-42).


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