Sunday, March 25, 2018
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
Procession Gospel: Mark 11:1-10
1st Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
2nd Reading Philippians 2:6-11
Responsorial: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47
Palm Sunday, A Day to Fix our Eyes on Jesus and His Death on the Cross
Not . . . something to be grasped. (Philippians 2:6)
Today is one of the most important days of the year. It’s a day to fix our eyes on Jesus and watch him empty himself on a cross—for us and for our salvation. It’s a day to honor the One whose entire life was one of giving, not grasping, one of healing and restoration, not division and rivalry. It’s a day to praise Jesus for overcoming sin and death through his act of pure, sacrificial love.
By his humility and obedience, Jesus has undone Adam’s prideful attempt to become God—and every attempt that all of Adam’s children have made ever since. He has shown that the way to heaven is not by grasping for ourselves and striving against one another. It’s not something we earn, and it’s not a kingdom we conquer. No, Jesus’ death on the cross proves that the way to heaven is one of receiving graciously instead of possessing selfishly.
This can sound so grandiose and heroic that we might think it’s out of our reach. But nothing can be further from the truth. God sees every act of self-sacrifice, every decision to put someone else’s needs ahead of ours, every decision to empty ourselves. When we give up time to help our child with yet another math problem, God sees it. When we listen carefully to a spouse who tells us about her difficult day at work, even if ours was no better, God sees it. When we put down our car window and offer some food or money to a homeless person, God sees it. He sees them all, and he rewards them.
Every single act of self-giving is a reflection of the cross. And because of that, every act of self-giving warms our Father’s heart and moves him to raise us up a little bit more—just as he did for Jesus.
So fix your eyes on Jesus today, and let his self-giving love move you to be more like him.
“Thank you, Jesus, for your cross! Lord, teach me to follow your path of love.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional maga-zine. Used with permission. For more information on how to subscribe to their magazine, go to www.wau.org
Experiencing God’s Mercy and Love, and Sharing it with Others
Crucify him! (Mark 15:13)
St. Francis de Sales once wrote: “I especially commend earnest mental prayer . . . upon the life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with him, you will grow in his likeness, and your actions will be molded on his.” Francis knew that if we want to see real transformation in our lives, we need to dwell deeply on the cross.
One of the best ways to do this is to imagine yourself in the upper room, in Gethsemane, or on the mount of crucifixion. Picture yourself sitting next to Jesus as he consecrates the bread and wine. What does his voice sound like? What is the expression on his face? Gaze into his eyes as he stands before Pilate and receives his death sentence. Why is he silent? What is going through his mind as he hears the crowd crying out for his crucifixion?
So often we think that what we do is what matters most. It does matter, but what God wants to do in us matters even more. This is why it is so important to contemplate the Passion, opening ourselves to God’s grace as we do.
Fr. Karl Rahner, one of the great theologians of Vatican II, once wrote: “We cannot deny that here below man can have experiences of grace that give him a feeling of liberation, open totally new horizons to him, make a deep impression on him, transform him, shaping, even over a long period of time, his deepest Christian attitude.” This is what really matters! This is how we can become more like Christ.
God wants to fill us with grace as we ponder the Passion this week. He wants to make a deep impression in our souls and cut us to the heart with his love. So look up to heaven every day this week, and thank him for giving himself to you so fully.
“Jesus, I am amazed at your love. Your mercy leaves me at a loss for words. All I can say is Thank You!”
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion:
Palm Sunday mass begins by recalling in the Procession reading, Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the crowd’s reaction: “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!’”
In the first reading, we begin to get a vivid glimpse of what Jesus suffered for us in his passion: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” Yet the reading ends with these words of hope and trust in the Lord: “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
In the responsorial Psalm, we also get a prophetic description of Jesus’ passion, as well as his crucifixion. Like the first reading, the responsorial psalm also ends with words of hope and trust in the Lord: “But you, O LORD, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: ‘You who fear the LORD, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him.’”
In the second reading we learn that Christ “emptied himself” and “humbled himself” when he became man: “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The reading ends with these words: “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Gospel reading describes Jesus’ fulfillment of what was prophesied in the first two readings regarding his passion and death. There are many “contrasts” in St. Mark’s description of the Passover celebration, the last supper, and his passion and crucifixion. It also describes the profession of faith by the gentile Roman centurion at the cross: "Truly this man was the Son of God.”
The meditation ends with these words: “Every single act of self-giving is a reflection of the cross. And because of that, every act of self-giving warms our Father’s heart and moves him to raise us up a little bit more—just as he did for Jesus. So fix your eyes on Jesus today, and let his self-giving love move you to be more like him.”
Take some time now to pray and thank Jesus for dying on the cross for your sins and ask him for the grace to follow, in a deeper way, his example of self-sacrifice and love. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.
“Thank you, Jesus, for your cross! Lord, teach me to follow your path of love.”
The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, who is in partner relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/); a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the military, prisoners, women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions, and college students. He is also a member of the National Service Committee Council of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (http://www.nsc-chariscenter.org/) and a member of the board of directors of the Christlife Catholic Ministry for Evangelization (https://christlife.org/).
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