PALM SUNDAY, March 28, 1999
Procession Gospel: Matthew 21: 1-11
Procession Psalm:Psalm 24: 1-10 and Matthew 21: 8-9
First Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-7
Psalms: Psalm 22: 2, 8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Second Reading:Philippians 2: 6-11
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26: 14-27; 27: 11-54
Will our Hosannas turn to hisses or hurrahs?
Palm Sunday signals the beginning of Holy Week when Jesus entered Jerusalem in glory. One week later He would rise in this city in even greater glory as He conquered death and redeemed us with His glorious Resurrection. The Passion, read at the gospel, signifies the mood for Passion Sunday and the tone set for Holy Week. We remember, in the Second Reading the words of St. Paul in Philippians 2: 8-11, "He [Christ] humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Therefore God also has exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." The words of the prophet Isaiah in the First Reading remind us there is no shame in following Christ and being loyal only to Him: "The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like fling, knowing that I shall not be put to shame" (Isaiah 50: 7). Only a few understood this and followed Him all the way to the foot of the Cross: His beloved Sorrowful Mother Mary, His beloved disciple and Apostle John and a chosen few, for "many are called. but few are chosen" (Matthew 20: 16).
How many of us have been called, yet waffle when it is time to "fish or cut-bait"? Going to Mass on Easter Sunday is a must, but to go on Palm Sunday, during Holy Week and especially taking part in the Easter Triduum seem to be too much. Oh, how weak we are. How we need to heed the words of Our Lady in this month's Medjugorje Message when she reminds us: "In this time, when due to the spirit of consumerism, one forgets what it means to love and to cherish true values, I invite you again, little children, to put God in the first place in your life. Do not let satan attract you through material things, but, little children, decide for God Who is Freedom and Love." She knows how these commercial and secular trappings do just that, trap us in a comfort zone that makes it difficult to acknowledge God first in our life. When we don't follow her advice and God's Laws through His Holy Church, the evil one manages to grab on harder, making it embarassing for us to admit our commitment to Jesus. His insidious world-first subtleties can cause our priorities and prudent time-management to turn topsy turvy. It's no fun being upside down. The best way to right ourselves is to resolve to do what Jesus' Blessed Mother requests. Thus, we need to take this Holy Week to reform our priorities, to look beyond the trees toward the Son-rise...to realize we cannot share or enjoy this glorious dawn of salvation without burying our pride and self-will and enthusiastically joining Jesus on the Way to Calvary by submitting totally to His Will for He says in Luke 14: 26, "He who does not carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple."
We can begin by meditating on the Passion of Jesus read at Holy Mass on Palm Sunday, then proudly proclaim our Catholicity and commitment by prominently displaying our blessed palm branches in our homes as a reminder that these same palms will be burned just before the following Ash Wednesday to be used to remind us that we are dust, and unto dust we shall return (cf. Genesis 3:19). Life is fleeting, Eternity is forever. The key to this Eternal Door is waiting for us to share the burden of the Cross. Are we willing to be Simon of Cyrenes and Veronicas? With God we can! Without Him, we are guaranteed to be among those who hissed and spit upon Him after they cheered Him in Hosannas! Do we really wanted to be counted in the latter, or be remembered for all eternity as His faithful chosen ones who responded when He called?