Palm Sunday

Mark 11:1-1
John 12:1, 12-13, Psalm 24:9-10
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1-15:47

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

My mother-in-law was a wise and fearless woman. She would confront any store clerk with confidence, employing both charm and firmness in getting the price she believed was fair. She died as she lived—without fear and filled with wisdom. As she faced her final weeks of life, she spent time individually with each of her daughters and with her beloved brother, loving them and imparting her final bits of wisdom arranged from a long life of lessons. While many might seek to prepare themselves for their imminent passing, my mother-in-law prepared others.

The understood time period between Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and his death is about a week—six days from shouts of “Hosanna to our king!” to “Crucify him!” In Mark’s gospel, that time period fills four chapters, making up a quarter of the entire gospel. Between Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem in chapter 11 and his passion and death in chapters 14-15, Jesus is both fearless and eager to impart his wisdom to his disciples. Chapters 11, 12 and 13 are rich with lessons of faith, prophesies and foretelling stories. Chapter 11 starts with Jesus cursing a fig tree to teach his disciples about faith and cleanses the temple in a show of zeal for his Father’s house. In Chapter 12, Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants to foretell his own death, turns the table on those trying to trick him by saying give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and, more importantly, to give to God what is God’s, explains how God is a God of the living, not of the dead, puts forth the Greatest Commandment, and praises a poor widow for her contribution to the temple treasury. And finally, in Chapter 13, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, warns his followers about signs of the end times and their persecution, prophesies the coming of the Son of Man, and tells his disciples to be watchful.

Jesus knew full well what he faced upon entering Jerusalem, despite the apparent praise from the people as he rode a colt into the city. Rather than basking in the display of glory, Jesus spent the remainder of the week preparing others for what was to come. Even while dying Jesus was preparing those around him. While many misunderstood, he quotes Psalm 22, pointing to the fulfillment of that Psalm in his death on the cross and affirming his role as the Christ.

There is no significance to Palm Sunday without Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. Without Jesus’ lessons to his disciples, and eventually to me, I would be left floundering in wonder of what any of this means. The thing is, I face the same fate as my mother-in-law and Jesus. Perhaps not in the same manner, but I will die. This week’s readings remind me that I need to prepare for that expected end.

To follow the examples of Jesus and my mother-in-law will require selflessness and humility. I cannot long for or bask in any earthly glory to be prepared for life in God’s Kingdom. I need to spend time loving those around me, preparing them and myself for the love of God made manifest through the life and sacrifice of Jesus. How do I do this? Through obedience to the Word, obedience to the law, obedience to the teachings of Christ. “And I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you” (Psalm 22:31).

My Lord Jesus, you knew what was ahead of you when you entered Jerusalem. Your life’s mission was not deterred or distracted by the outward praise because you knew the hearts of those shouting out to you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your teaching. Grant me the knowledge to understand and the wisdom to act on that which I am able to understand so to fulfill the will of the Father. I ask this in your name. Amen

3 thoughts on “Palm Sunday

  1. Thank you Tim for your insightful and thought provoking blogs. They are easy to read and understand and have proven to be helpful to both my wife and I as we travel our faith journey. Keep ’em coming—We love them! God bless!
    —Bernie G.

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