Palm Sunday and Holy Week
Scripture Reflection for Palm Sunday, Year A
In today’s world of Netflix, PVRs and DVDs we are able to watch our favorite television show or movie whenever we want. Both my son and my daughter will watch the same movie several times, even though they know the outcome. As a matter of fact, they know these movies so well, I will hear them quoting the dialogue of some of the funnier scenes to each other in a conversation that only makes sense to them. I have never been able to do this. Once I have seen a movie, I don’t see the point in watching it again since the ending is probably not going to change. This same line of thinking can be a challenge for us during this, the most holy week of the year. Over the next 8 days or so, we are going to hear readings we have heard before about events that took place a long time ago with endings that we are all familiar with. The challenge; how do we let God continue to surprise us each and every time we hear these stories of our salvation?
Last week, in an R.C.I.A. meeting, we were breaking open the gospel reading of the “raising of Lazarus” and it struck me that we were listening to the story with the ending in mind, as opposed to just being present to the events as they unfolded. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, and that he was needed, he waited two full days before starting out on his journey. This should have made us all just a little uncomfortable, wondering why Jesus would not drop everything he was doing to attend to a sick friend whom he loved. Instead, we hardly noticed it because we knew that Lazarus was going to be just fine in the end. I think part of the reason we do this is that we don’t see ourselves in these stories; they don’t seem to be speaking to us or about us. So as long as we remain detached we can never fully appreciate their redeeming power. With this in mind, let’s try something different this week.
On Palm Sunday, instead of just remembering the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, let’s be one of the crowd waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna”, fully aware that this same crowd, of which I am a part, would be shouting “Crucify him” just a few short days later. It makes me wonder if I truly am ‘just one of the crowd’ or am I willing to stand up for Jesus no matter the cost. On Holy Thursday, can I let myself be shocked by this gesture of washing feet and submit to the fact that if I want to truly follow Jesus then I must be willing to serve all who God has put in my life; especially the Peter’s and Judas’. On Good Friday, can I be truly shocked at the horrific events of this day, and yet moved to tears that Jesus loved me so much that he did this willingly for me? On Holy Saturday night, can I be in total awe as I enter into the story of God’s incredible love for us? In how that love was manifested in creation; in His promise to Abraham; in the guiding hand provided to Moses and the Israelites; the promise to Isaiah that He would always look out for us and the invitation to those who may have drifted that they are always welcome back home? And, best of all, that He will always be our God and we will always be His people. And on Easter Sunday, can I be as wide eyed as a child as I see the fulfillment of God’s love in the resurrection.
Yes, these stories might sound familiar; like maybe I have heard them before; but I haven’t. The person I am now is not the same person I was the last time they were proclaimed. Events in my life, good and bad, have changed me and left me with the realization that I may not have all the answers when it comes to what God’s plan is for me. So come on Holy Week, because after this great journey of Lent, I can hardly wait to see where the story goes from here.
Pastoral Associate for Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish Grouping