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Palm Sunday



When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, 'Why are you doing this?' reply, 'The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.'" So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!"

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, your passion and death are a testimony of your faithful love for your Father and for us. You were faithful to the point of shedding your blood and dying on a cross. Nothing could stop you from loving in a total, faithful and absolute way. Lord, you know how different my love is, weak, frail and prone to fall. In your presence I prepare my soul to live this Holy Week with renewed faith and love, and trust in your grace that I can improve. 

Petition: Lord, help me to meditate on your passion in such a way that I can open my heart to the grace you want to give me, so as to love you more faithfully in my daily life and in my options.   

1. He sent two disciples with instructions. Most probably, those two men had no idea what Jesus had in mind or the importance of what they were about to do, but HE did, and in sending them he made them an integral part of his plan—he sent them to do something without which he would not have been able to do what he had in mind. It is all somewhat mysterious. The unquestioning way in which they did what they were asked shows the level of trust they already had in him, for it seems they didn’t even blink at the mysterious request and the rather lame explanation they were to give if they were challenged. And it also sounds like Jesus might have made beforehand his own private arrangements unbeknownst to the apostles.

The path of our lives unfolds in much the same way. Jesus in his providence has a plan marked out, his plan. At the proper times everything is in place for the next step he wants to ask of us, but more often than not his plan remains hidden from us and we can discover it only by saying yes in each moment, cooperating so that in time his plan unfolds in the way and at the rate he wants. The key is trust. At times what he asks of us might seem unremarkable or indifferent, but there is nothing indifferent when we are talking about God’s plans. At times it might even seem contradictory, as when he allows crosses in our lives, or when we experience our own weakness and inadequacy. Above all, we must let ourselves be guided by our faith in him and in his love, which leads us to have enough trust to abandon ourselves completely to him each step of the way.   

2. They brought the colt to Jesus and they put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. In this spontaneous gesture we have a moving sign of their respect for Jesus as they drape their cloaks on the donkey before he sits on it, one of those instinctive actions that anticipate something unusual or important is about to take place. Jesus accepts their actions, and with the means they have provided (the donkey, their cloaks) he sits on the donkey and thus takes his own deliberate next step in the extraordinary event that is about to take place, his “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem. What happened then and what came as a result of it, was therefore no accident; all was deliberately anticipated, prepared and willed by Jesus himself, both the immediate action and its consequences as well. Here we see Jesus’ courage and the totality of his free commitment to engage in this climaxing week and the final act of our redemption. Truly with this gesture the die is cast, there is no going back. When the Son of God became incarnate he said to the Father, I come to do your will, and he is now seeing it through to the end. Once he gets on that donkey and heads towards Jerusalem there is definitely no turning back.

By riding a donkey, Jesus makes a statement about himself. He is King, but not a conquering king about to impose his authority over nations by force of arms, for when kings went to war they rode horses but when they came in peace it was on a donkey. Jesus enters Jerusalem as what he was, the Prince of Peace.   

3. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, and blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come…. We can only speculate on what exactly was in the mind of the people who greeted Jesus in this fashion, what ideas and hopes were theirs as they shouted these words, and what moved them to cut branches and spread their cloaks on the ground before him. A King, yes; but, what kind of King? We should, however, have no doubt about what moves us to give him our homage, and what kind of King Jesus is for us. No doubt we tend naturally to wish and have time only for a conquering, successful king who will solve all my problems and make me feel good, and that is what it feels like as we first give our lives over to him. But by Baptism we were made more than knowing by-standers in the drama of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, we were made participators in them. St Paul tells us, So by our baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father's glorious power, we too should begin living a new life. If we have been joined to him by dying a death like his, so we shall be by a resurrection like his (Rom 6:4-5).  Palm Sunday, as the gateway to Holy Week, is the moment for us to renew our desire to live again this death and resurrection with Christ, and after doing so renew our baptismal commitments during the Easter Vigil, so as to be truly his. 

Conversation: Lord Jesus, I accept you as my King, on your conditions. I thank you for respecting my freedom and conquering my heart through the force of your love. I want my life to be a declaration of my belief in you. I want to live according to your will. I want and trust one day to enter into your eternal Kingdom, but I know I can only do so with the help of your grace, and by following you not only on the wildly successful days like Palm Sunday, but also through the darkness of suffering and death. Prepare my soul to relive your Passion, Death and Resurrection this week, and free me of my fear of following you. 

Questionnaire:

1. Do I realize that God has plans he wants to fulfill through my cooperation and trust in him? Am I willing to trust him?

2. What effect does Jesus’ example of fortitude and decision have on me and my decisions?

3. What does my belief in the Kingdom of Christ consist in?

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