This Sunday is Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord–the day when we seamlessly move from calling out “Hosanna in the highest!” to “Crucify him!” in just a matter of minutes. It’s the beginning of Holy Week, and sets us up perfectly for our celebration of the Paschal Mystery as we move from the Last Supper to the Resurrection in our Triduum liturgy.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.”
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
We begin Holy Week today as we prepare to close out the season of Lent and move toward Easter. Mass begins differently than any other Sunday; with a Gospel story about Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, a procession as we wave our palm branches to welcome Jesus. It’s different because it’s preparing us for a moment in our liturgical year that is like no other, but is the source of everything we do. We celebrate a three day long liturgy called The Triduum over Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah tells the story of what it means to be a prophet–to speak God’s words to the weary and inspire them to action. This is what Jesus did, and this is what we are called to do. It means rejection at times, frustration and can also lead to death.
The second reading speaks of the humility that Jesus showed in his prophetic role. He was perfectly equal to the Father, but he never claimed it. For our sake he allowed himself to be subject to everything we go through, to be treated terribly by us, and even killed by us. Because of this, the name he took as a human was given such dignity that whenever we say it, we should bow.
The Gospel is the story of the Passion, and like Good Friday, we take our part in telling the story–because it is our story. Jesus died for each of us, for sins that we would commit long after Jesus had died and rose, and so we say the words that led to his death. It’s not to make us feel guilty, but to remind us of God’s great love for us; that even when we are not being who God means us to be, Jesus willingly opens his arms to us and lets us do what we will. His self-emptying love fills us; the sacrifice that took his life, brings us eternal life.
What did you think was the most interesting part of the Mass today? What did you like the best?
Was it weird for you to read the “bad guy” parts of today’s Gospel? Did any of the words or phrases stand out for you?
The Gospel says that, when they put Jesus in the tomb, Mary Magdalene placed herself in front of the tomb; that she “remained sitting there”, keeping vigil. Why do you think she sat there? Do you think she remembered what he did for her brother and hoped the same for him? Or do you think she didn’t know where else she could go? Or maybe she was too grief-stricken and fearful that everything failed to move? What do you think you would have done, and what would you have felt?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”