Mk 11:1-10; Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mk 14:1–15:47 (Year B)
The blessing and distribution of palms at the beginning of Holy Week invites us to deepen our communion with the death and the Resurrection of the Lord. The palms that we take home are a constant reminder that a week begun in joyful welcome was to become a week of rejection, death and Resurrection. The superficiality of the crowd’s acclamation soon became the orchestrated condemnation of the mob.
If our week is to become a deepening communion in the death and Resurrection of the Lord, we must face this same contradiction in ourselves. We welcome the Lord, but so easily bypass the death that we must share with him if we are to participate in the fullness of his Resurrection.
The words of the prophet Isaiah place listening at the heart of Holy Week: “The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue, so that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech. Each morning he wakens me to hear. For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away.”
Isaiah’s faithful servant listened to the will of God, to what its consequences might mean for himself. His assurance lay not in his own strength, but “in the Lord who comes to my help”.
Contrite prayer is our own listening to the Lord. To acknowledge his presence in our lives is to acknowledge our sinfulness. Like the servant, we cannot turn away from the self-knowledge that this brings, or the repentance that it demands. We must be willing to die, to surrender to the Lord’s Passion, all that hinders his love in us. Then we too shall know the Lord who comes to our help.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians draws us into the Passion of Christ. Its ancient hymn is preceded by a simple invitation: “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.”
Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself. We cannot cling to selfish and sinful ways. He was humbler still, even to accepting death on a cross. We are called to the humility that surrenders to his death all sinful attitudes that refuse to die within us. Such was the surrender of Jesus at his Passion, both in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. “Take this cup away from me, but let it be as you, not I, would have it. Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
It is through our own surrender, shared with Christ, that we are raised up in the power of his Resurrection. “But the Father raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names.”
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