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Scripture reflections: Palm Sunday

 |  03 April 2017

Lectionary readings

First reading: Isaiah 50:4-7

Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 21

Gospel reading: Matthew 21:1-11

Opening prayer

Increase the faith of those who place their hope in you, O God, and graciously hear the prayers of those who call on you, that we, who today hold high these branches, to hail Christ in his triumph, may bear fruit for you by good works accomplished in him.

As I prepare to follow Jesus over the coming week in the suffering of his Passion, I am aware that my prayer will be made in the knowledge of His Resurrection.

I watch and listen as Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey and is acclaimed by the people. Jesus’ arrival contrasts with other processions entering Jerusalem for Passover. His way is of humble obedience to the Father, not one of power and pageantry. (Gospel, Matthew  21:1–11)

I am encouraged to listen to the Lord, who will give me the words I need to speak of him to others. I know that, because God is with me, I shall not be shamed (First Reading). Even if

I feel abandoned, as if God has forsaken me, I can pray with confidence and trust, knowing that he will always hasten to help me (Psalm) St Paul proclaims the humility of Jesus, as He accepts His humanity and His death. I bow in adoration as the glory of His Resurrection reveals Him as my Lord and my God (Second Reading).

During this holiest week of the Church’s year, I pray that I may know from the depths of my heart the love of Jesus for me, for us all, shown most fully in His willingness to die for my sin.

First reading

Isaiah 50:4-7

The reading is from the Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah, who called the Babylonian exiles to fidelity and tried to help them find meaning in their sufferings.The first part describes Isaiah’s mission and how God prepared him; the second describes the difficulties involved and his response to them and to God.The words perfectly describe Jesus.

I read the passage slowly, praying it—perhaps as Isaiah, and/or Jesus, and/or self, and/or a significant person who persevered(s) with a difficult mission, despite persecution.

What was their task—and what is mine? How did God prepare them —and how did God prepare me? How did they respond? How do I respond—in a Christ-like way? What do I want to say to God . .. to say to Jesus?

I bring my prayer to a close in my own words, saying to God whatever is in my heart and mind.

Second reading

Philippians 2:6-11

Paul encourages selfless lives, with Jesus as our model. I read this passage and accompany Jesus in his journey of self-emptying

love. He offers to become man so as to show us the way to God. What was he leaving behind? I’m with him as he grows up in a Galilean backwater, as he moves round the country—teaching, healing, forgiving, dependent on others for hospitality and care ... as he, God’s son, washes his disciples’ feet ... as he puts up with persecution and a cruel death for telling the truth about God and for behaving as God would behave. How did Jesus ‘empty’ himself? What enabled him to do this? Did the Father let him down?

How like Jesus am I? I recall those times when I have shown self- emptying love. I recall the ways in which I still have to grow in this kind of love. I ask Jesus to make me more like him.

Reflections from from the Jesuits in Britain.  


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