Palm Sunday (Sunday of the Passion)

On this Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday, the momentum of the season draws us closer to the cross as we experience the united effect of two seemingly divergent events. The Liturgies of the Palms and of the Passion occupy the same stage, their dramas unfolding so near that we can hardly make the emotional shift. Strength and vulnerability share one liturgical moment, inviting us to shout ‘Hosanna!’ while also preparing ourselves for the tragedy of the crucifixion and the mourning that follows. The Liturgy of the Palms interrupts the moment with a call to communal faith, courageous proclamation, and clear action as we consider again our shared identity as the Church and the community of faith. The Gospel invites us to remember, to hear Jesus’ anguished cry from the cross so that we might discern the value of the crucifixion for our lives and allow it to help us be born again. Think about how Jesus is all but silent in the days preceding his crucifixion, hoping to transform the patterns of relationship by suggesting that a right relationship with God is tied to our willingness to love each other and give to the least as unto God. Perhaps Jesus has said enough and now we must remember. What if his prolonged silence and painful cry from the cross is a call to action for us to stand in solidarity with those who suffer within our communities and neighbourhoods? As we journey into Holy Week, the liturgies become something of a dress rehearsal for the parts we will play as we assume our roles in the passion drama, accompanying Jesus from his Last Supper to his burial. Matthew’s narrative affirms that whatever lies ahead for Jesus’ followers has already happened to Jesus. The most important Christian claim in this Gospel is that Jesus – even at the loneliest moment on the cross – is Immanuel, God with us. Without the cross there is no resurrection. Faith is revealed in relying upon God in the lowest moments of our lives. Hope is born in discovering that indeed God is with us. So, the cross proves to be good news.

Fr Jonathan