Reflection for Palm Sunday (N.O.) and Second Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) E.F.

Abbot Richard’s Gospel Reflection.
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – 9 April 2017
Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11 & 26:14 – 27:66

For the sake of the future, he endured the cross

There are two Gospel passages presented to us in the Sunday Mass this week – Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and St Matthew’s account of the Passion of the Lord. The contrast between the two could not be greater. In the first Jesus is fully in control, commandeering a donkey and a colt as transport, and being hailed by the crowds as a prophet. But in the account of the Passion Jesus seems powerless in the face of the authorities and almost everyone, even his closest friends, abandon him.

I have always felt much more comfortable with the first story. It’s easy to follow someone in the good times, to be supporting the winning team, but much harder to stick with them when times get tough. Even from Jesus’ point of view the triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have given him a great buzz. Although he knew what lay ahead of him in the city, he still allowed the crowds to make such a commotion.

If we look a little closer at the story of the Passion we discover a recurring theme running through the narrative – when things get tough Jesus always keeps going for the sake of what lies in the future. We see this first when Jesus is praying in Gethsemane ‘if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done’ and then when the men come to seize him and one of his followers cuts off the high priest’s servant’s ear, and again when the high priest asks Jesus if he is the Son of God. Though in most cases Jesus hardly says anything, it is clear that he is enduring all these things to realise something much greater.

If we think back to the story of the Transfiguration on the second Sunday of Lent we see a similar contrast between the two parts of that story. The disciples were excited by the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus and wanted the moment to last but were terrified when the scene changed and they heard the thunder and saw the clouds. In that story Jesus reassures them and tells them not to be afraid just as in the story of the Passion he keeps going despite the difficulties and suffering and does not give up.

The challenge for us is the stick with Jesus in the good times as well as the not so good ones. Though Jesus had been abandoned by most of his followers he did not give up. Though he was stripped and beaten he kept going. Though he was taunted and abused he did not retaliate. For the sake of the future, he endured the cross.

Fr Richard Purcell ocso

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At Jerusalem in the fourth century, on the very spot where the event took place, was read today the passage from the Gospel which describes the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when He was hailed by the people as Son of David and King of Israel. A bishop, mounted on an ass next rode up to the Church of the Resurrection on the Mount of Olives surrounded by the crowd bearing branches of palms and singing hymns and antiphons. The Church of Rome adopted this practice about the ninth century and added to it the blessing of palms.

The Palm Sunday procession is formed of Christians who, in the fullness of faith make their own gesture and endow it with its full significance. We proclaim Christ as a Victor …. Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. But by our faith we know, as they did not, all that His triumph stands for. He is the Son of David and the Son of God. He is the sign of contradiction, acclaimed by some and reviled by others. Sent into this world to wrest us from sin and from satan. He underwent His Passion – the punishment for our sins, but issues forth triumphant  from the tomb, the victor over death making our peace with God and taking us with Him into the kingdom of His Father in heaven.

Antiphon for the Blessing of Palms:

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. O King of Israel. Hosanna in the highest.

Introit at Holy Mass:

O Lord keep not Thy help far from me; look to my defence; delikver me from the lion’s mouth, and my lowness from the horns of unicorns. Ps: O God, my God, look upon me; why hast Thou forsaken me? Far  from my salvation are the words of my sins. – Lord, keep not.

The Passion:    Matthew 26.  36-75; 27. 1-60


Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.


By the virtue of this mystery, Lord, may our sins be purged away and our rightful desires fulfilled. Through our Lord.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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17 Responses to Reflection for Palm Sunday (N.O.) and Second Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) E.F.

  1. toadspittle says:

    I’ll ask again: How do we know what Christ said to his father, as he prayed alone in Gethsemene?
    Is that an unreasonable or trick question – which doesn’t merit an answer?
    If so, how or why?

  2. The Raven says:

    I don’t think that the gospel account tells us that they went straight to sleep the second He left them, Toad; in all likelihood they would have heard at least the first part of His prayer. It is entirely possible that His prayer to the Father was simply a prolonged litany of this formula.

  3. toadspittle says:

    Thanks for the prompt reply, Raven.

    So, the Apostles heard Christ agonising to God and fell asleep in the middle of it.
    Well, why not? Wouldn’t any of us? Nor would we think of asking Christ what he meant.
    What cup, why the agony? None of their business, I suppose.
    But at least one of the Apostles must have remembered when he woke up. From the Gospel, I get the idea none of them knew anything strange was going on. I’m wrong, no doubt.

  4. GC says:

    I agree with Toad, Raven. It’s a great everlasting pity that God didn’t provide a digital voice recording device to those drowsy disciples right there in Gethsemane so that they could get a complete record and still nod off, and it wouldn’t matter into futurity; CCTV, or at least a few scribes with quills and papyrus ready, secreted behind a nearby rock or Judaean bushy shrub à la the media. They even put micro microphones down gels’ cleavages these days to get it all word for word or get it from videos on facebook etc or targeted media leaks.

  5. The Raven says:

    Well, quite. It’s not as if He’d spent the previous few days telling His disciples exactly what was going to happen, was it?

  6. GC says:

    Well, exactly, Raven, but I suppose when one is writing a Gospel for one’s community or more broadly one can’t put in every detail. One thinks that one is not necessarily a 21st century media person. One probably feels that one is inspired to try to concentrate on presenting a slightly bigger picture for posterity.

    Still it’s worth thinking about whether God should have waited until we had mobile phone video recording, twitter, snapchat, instagram, wechat and CCTV in prime positioned places etc. before getting involved in incarnating and all that kind of thing. For sharing on Jesus’s facebook page later.

    I think Toad could have a point here.

    Laymen throw Holy Water on  palms in the Philippines last Sunday
    (Getty Images)

  7. toadspittle says:

    Considering we don’t even know what year all this unpleasantness happened, a few electronic devices might have helped quote a lot. But, as GC and Raven point out – we can’t have everything, can we?

    It’s not as if He’d spent the previous few days telling His disciples exactly what was going to happen, was it?
    So the Apostles already knew the whole passion scenario in advance, then Raven?
    I confess I didn’t know that. I must clearly read scripture more diligently.

  8. toadspittle says:

    The sarcasm of GC and Raven is much appreciated. It indicates concern and interest.

    As it’s Good Friday even as I write, we might also consider this: Why did the Romans (and Jews) after nailing Christ up as a grim warning of what happened to people who got out of line *- allowed him to be taken down after only a few hours, when he was still warm? And without even breaking his legs, which was standard procedure? And – instead of leaving his body to be consumed by dogs and the like, which was the norm – allowed him, as a common criminal and blasphemer – to be buried in a fine and elegant tomb?

    I don’t know the answers. I suppose we should not even consider such impertinent questions.
    But I do give these matters considerable thought. I believe it’s our duty to do so.

    * Including pinning a sarcastic notice above his head.

  9. GC says:

    Toad wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Toad’s question here didn’t escape a few more persons than just a solitary Toad all down the ages to now, the 21st century, would Toad? But to tell the truth, it seems to have been more of a non-question, even for the greatest intellects – like St Augustine and the medieval Angelic Dominican Doctor. I’m not aware that it is of great concern to modern theologians either ( but I could be wrong), but probably for other reasons.

    I often think that, if Toad strikes problems like this, Toad could do Toad’s own research (homework?) and share with all of us here Toad’s better-informed findings and conclusions. What a blessing that could be.

  10. toadspittle says:

    Yes GC – I also doubt that my questions are original and that nobody has thought of them before. But I can’t find any reference, or answer, to them – or I would share it with you all.
    And I have diligently tried to find out.
    Nor do I count myself one of the greatest intellects. In fact, I’m very thick. Kathleen will confirm this.
    Anyway, a very Happy Easter to one and all.

  11. toadspittle says:

    Why does ir take three days to moderate a comment?
    Is it something to do with Easter?

    [The Moderator – Yes. Have a happy Easter and God bless you.]

  12. The Raven says:


    Why did the Romans (and Jews) after nailing Christ up as a grim warning of what happened to people who got out of line *- allowed him to be taken down after only a few hours, when he was still warm?

    St John:

    19:31 Then the Jews (because it was the parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that was a great sabbath day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken: and that they might be taken away.


    And without even breaking his legs, which was standard procedure?

    They broke their legs to speed up the death of the chaps being crucified: you suffocate quickly if you are unable to support your body. Supporting the feet was a sadistic Roman “enhancement” of the crucifixion process – it kept the poor devils being crucified alive to suffer for longer.

    St John:

    19:32 The soldiers therefore came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him.
    19:33 But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
    19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side: and immediately there came out blood and water.

    One of my acquaintances, a pathologist, tells me that the blood and water was conclusive proof of death.


    And – instead of leaving his body to be consumed by dogs and the like, which was the norm – allowed him, as a common criminal and blasphemer – to be buried in a fine and elegant tomb?

    St John:

    19:38 And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews), besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore and took away the body of Jesus.

    Remember that Pilate wasn’t particularly keen on executing Our Lord; he may well have seen it as a means to thumb his nose at the Priests and temple authorities who had twisted his arm (much like the notice that Pilate put above His head).

  13. GC says:

    Yes, Raven, I also thought of doing Toad’s homework for him, but then thought “computer says no”.

    But as the moderator said, a very happy Easter to Toad and to yourself and to all readers of CP&S.

  14. The Raven says:

    Well, dear Golden, I too balked at the thought of answering our dear friend, but then I saw that the answers were in a single passage from st John, I thought it better to point him in that direction.

  15. toadspittle says:

    I am familiar with that passage, Raven – but many thanks for your kind effort.
    “…that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that was a great sabbath day),
    I’d have thought, with that in mind, the “sensible” thing to do would have been to lock up Christ until Sunday, or whenever – then crucify him in the “normal” way.
    But I don’t know.
    Were all bodies, then, removed from their crosses before the Sabbath – or just before the Great Sabbath? I don’t know that , either. Would your pathologist friend have any thoughts on whether or not it is conceivable to be able to drive great big nails through someone’s hands and feet without breaking any bones?
    Another thing I don’t know. Don’t know much, really.

  16. The Raven says:

    I suspect that the pressure to execute Our Lord in haste was from the temple authorities and they wanted Him buried out of sight PDQ, the Sabbath may just have been the pretext they needed to get their way. I don’t know whether there was anything exceptional in all of this, as we are not told what the Romans’ usual execution practices were at their period in the Levant (the author seems to have taken it as a given that this would have needed little explanation for his audience, who would have had firsthand experience of the Roman colonial administration).

    I think that I’m right in saying that the current thinking on crucifixion is that the nails would have gone in the wrists and shins (between ulnar and radix and tibia and fibula) – the Greeks only having one word, χέρια, for arms and hands and similarly one word for feet and legs – πόδια.

    So yes, a chap could be crucified without breaking his bones.

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