Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name
I do not believe I need to remind you of the importance of the word of God this week — I think God is speaking to us continually, even whenwe are not at Mass. During our whole life it has been that way.
For each and every one of us there are scripture phrases that resound to this very day. One that I will never forget is from John’s account of the passion where he recorded the response of Pilate to Jewish leaders who complain to him about what he had written on the placard above the head of Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. They wanted him to rewrite it to say: Jesus said, I am the King of the Jews. What sticks in my memory is my pastor in Middletown, who had a wonderful booming voice, singing in Latin: Quod scripsi, scripsi — What I have written, I have written. It is more memorable with the Latin melody. (If this were a live presentation I would sing it for you.)
We cannot have Holy Week without the scriptures. This year we have to rely upon them all the more. Remember it is the booming voice of God singing his word to us. Take what he says to heart all the more.
Matthew 21:1-11 (Procession Gospel)
This additional Gospel passage is not part of what we consider the Gospel Passion Accounts which generally begin with the Last Supper and the foreboding suffering that is coming Jesus’ way. But the tradition of the Church shows its wisdom in connecting the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, with its splendor and glory, together with the suffering of Jesus and then the delight of his resurrection within a short time. Actually, the procession with palms is a resurrection account which reveals the victory of Christ, the chosen King, who outlived death for us. We listen to it with that in mind.
Another eye opener is to listen to what pilgrims entering Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover were singing. It sheds quite a bit of light on the events and why we sing them, too.
Psalm 118:19-29 (the title THE LORD = Yahweh, appearing 10 times in these 11 verses.)
Open for me the gates of saving justice,
I shall go in and give thanks to THE LORD.
This is the gate of THE LORD,
where the upright go in.
I thank you for hearing me,
and making yourself my Saviour.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
This is THE LORD’s doing,
and we marvel at it.
This is the day which THE LORD has made,
a day for us to rejoice and be glad.
We beg you, THE LORD, save us [=Hosanna], we beg you,
THE LORD, give us victory!
Blessed in the name of THE LORD is he who is coming!
We bless you from the house of THE LORD.
THE LORD is God, he gives us light.
Link your processions, branches in hand, up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, I thank you, all praise to you, my God.
I thank you for hearing me, and making yourself my Saviour.
Give thanks to THE LORD for he is good,
for his faithful love endures for ever.
Just a few words. The gates of saving justice or gates of righteousness are the gates to the City Jerusalem and also the gates to the Temple, God’s dwelling. We enter to praise THE LORD.
This is the day the Lord has made is our frequent song of Easter.
Lord, save us is the meaning of the shout Hosanna.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of THE LORD is our song at the Holy, holy at Mass.
They go to the altar in the Temple with branches in their hands
Give thanks to THE LORD for his faithful merciful love endures forever.
I hope that this gives you a better grasp of the richness of the crowds and richness of our Church celebration of Palm Sunday next year in church.
Isaiah 50:4-7 (Servant Song 3, see Isaiah 42:1 and footnote)
All of these readings today contain so much that we cannot deal with them at length here. But that is what Holy Week is for, namely, to delve into the riches of God’s word. Time spent on them will reward you greatly.
For this Servant Song let me just say that the Servant has multiple layers of meaning. The Servant is singular and easily refers to the one person Jesus Christ as an individual. As singular, as so often in the psalms, it can refer to the one people of God taken together — the community aspect of the Church. This all comes together that the one saving Servant Jesus Christ and the one Church, his body, are together and therefore refers to all of us joined in Christ, our Servant and King. The one characteristic for the whole body of Christ, Head and members, is that the Lord gives his servant an ear to listen to him speak and the servant in turn speaks to the weary. Fits Jesus perfectly and through his grace is what we are diligently working on.
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (2a)
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Just remember this psalm begins with a cry for help and ends up with a praise and thanksgiving to God who comes to his assistance. It is an uplifting psalm, so typical of Christ and his whole life dedicated entirely to his heavenly Father. Do not get lost in the details of the suffering of Christ during his passion.
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
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, all you descendants of Israel!”
Do not forget the meekness of the King who entered Jerusalem in victory but also humbly before his Father. He submitted himself to the suffering of the Cross, no one forced him to do it against his will. This prayer of the Church is a plea before God that we not only learn this lesson from his Son but also have his gift of the Spirit to practice what we learned. This will assure us of sharing in Christ’s risen glory for all eternity.
Philippians 2:6-11 (Early Christian Hymn)
As much as we appreciate the wisdom and faith of Saint Paul we have to admit that he probably did not compose this wonderful hymn. We believe that it already was part of the early Church’s liturgy — composer unknown. This does not detract from the teaching and power of what Saint Paul wrote for us. We find it hard to express this mystery of the suffering and glorification of Christ in a more adequate way. Just remember that from the beginning of the Christian era our brothers and sisters in the faith did not isolate the passion of Christ from his manifestation of glory. The Paschal Mystery is the death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus the Christ. Everything God speaks to us this Holy Week is one action of the heavenly Father.
Matthew 26:14—27:66 (Passion Account)
Remember, everything here comes from God’s love and Christ’s love. Jesus had supreme confidence that the Father loved him and therefore and would not be put to shame. Jesus, just as his Father, did not have to do anything for us. It is all freely given and therefore must be freely received by us. The passion, death and resurrection of Christ the Son of God is a free gift to mankind. So as Saint Paul said above: The Christ received a name above every other name, the name of God himself. This is why we can say that the resurrection of Jesus has revealed to the world that he is truly both God and man.
Alternate version of the Collect/Gathering Prayer
No one else, O Lord, is as powerful as you or whose life is from eternity to eternity. The power and effectiveness of your love brought you to offer mankind the greatest example for imitation of total submission to your will that we find in our Savior, your Son, who became man and obediently underwent death on the cross for us. In your great desire to be close to us so that we be close to you grant that we have your gifts of grace to receive lovingly during these days the recorded testimony of his suffering and death and a share in his resurrection that flows from it.