March 20, 2016
PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION
Lk 22: 14 – 23: 56
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus the Messiah
In my experience, liturgists advise priests that on Palm Sunday and Good Friday when the Passion of the Lord is read as a part of the Liturgy, it is neither the proper time nor place for a lengthy homily. I’ve been advised by people I trust that the Passion is itself a homily, and that very few additional words from me are required during these very lengthy liturgies.
But if I could give a homily on a day when the Passion of the Lord is read in church, I would choose to talk about the gospel of the First Sunday of Lent and how the passion narrative brings the account of the temptations of the Lord to a conclusion. In Luke’s version, Luke 4:13 ends – after Jesus doesn’t give in to the three very severe and intense temptations of Satan with these words: “He [Satan] departed from him [Jesus] for a time.” In Greek, the word “time” used by Luke is not the ordinary word for plain, old “time”; it is, instead, a word that means “a special time” or “a golden opportunity” or “a moment of crisis”.
And that “time,” that “golden opportunity” for Satan, that “moment of crisis” for Jesus, I believe, is when Jesus is dying on the cross. In Luke’s passion narrative, passersby and Roman soldiers taunt Jesus, saying, “Let him save himself if he is the Chosen One, the Christ of God.” These words are Satan’s ultimate temptation of the Lord. If Jesus, goaded on by these words, had decided to give in to prove that he was indeed the long-awaited Messiah, the true Son of God, he would not have accomplished his mission. So, rather than prove who he is, Jesus carried out his mission to die for the redemption of sinners.
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you at my side enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
—Joseph Tetlow, S.J.
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