Theme: THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORY, RESURRECTION, LIFE, GLORY AND SALVATION
- Mark 11:1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21:8-9. 17-20. 23-24. R/ v. 2;
- Philippians 2:6-11
- Mark 14:1- 15:47 (Shorter Form, 15:1-39)
Today we celebrate Passion Sunday. Passion Sunday is also called Palm Sunday. This is because the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is victory, resurrection, life, glory and salvation! The Palm symbolizes victory, resurrection, life, glory and salvation!
The gospel today tells us that the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is resurrection and glory. The gospel tells us in Jesus’ own words that the passion is resurrection and glory! When they were at the Mount of Olives, Jesus told his disciples that they will lose faith in him and they will desert him, but more importantly, Jesus told them that after his resurrection he will go before them to Galilee. The gospel also tells us that when the high priest asked Jesus if he was the Christ/Messiah and the Son of God, Jesus answered that he was! And Jesus added that he will sit at the right hand of God in glory and he will come with the clouds of heaven in glory!
The gospel also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is salvation! The gospel tells us that Barabbas the murderer was saved and Jesus the innocent one was crucified in his place! The gospel also tells us that when Jesus died, the veil of the temple which separated the “holy of holies” from the rest of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Only the high priest entered the holy of holies and only once a year on the Day of Atonement! But now the presence of God in the holy of holies becomes assessable to everyone and at every time! Finally, the gospel tells us that the pagan centurion professed his faith in Jesus as the Son of God!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victory, resurrection and glory! The first reading is the third of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The suffering servant is innocent, but he suffers on behalf of the guilty – vicarious suffering! The Lord will save his suffering servant and through him the Lord will save the whole world! Thus we read in the first reading:
“I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.”
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the passion of Jesus Christ is victory and glory.
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The response and the first three stanzas tell us of the sufferings of the servant (NJB), but more importantly, the fourth stanza tells us that the suffering servant praises God for his salvation and invites the whole community to praise God for salvation! Thus the fourth stanza:
“I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled. ‘You who fear the Lord give him praise; all sons of Jacob, give him glory. Revere him, Israel’s sons.’”
The second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that Jesus Christ was God, but he did not count equality with God. He became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name above all other names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Again, the passion of Jesus Christ is victorious and glorious! That is why we have to put the palm with the crucifix to symbolize that the passion of Jesus Christ is resurrection and glory!
During the past five weeks of Lent we have been praying, fasting and giving alms to the poor, to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. We celebrate the paschal mystery during Holy Week. Passion Sunday / Palm Sunday begins Holy Week and climaxes in the Easter Triduum of the Lord’s death (Good Friday), burial (Holy Saturday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday)! Good Friday begins with Holy Thursday. The Easter Triduum begins with Holy Thursday and ends with the Easter Vigil. The Easter Triduum is one celebration. There will not be any dismissal on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The dismissal will only be given after the Easter Vigil. Lent will end with the Holy Thursday Evening Mass, exclusive. Let us then continue to pray, fast and give alms to the poor to follow the Lord in his suffering and death, so as to follow him in his resurrection and glory! A blessed Holy Week to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.