March 28, 2021
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 37 & 38

Mark 11:1-10
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1—15:47

Praying Lent Home

Audio: The 1st Four Days of Holy Week - 14 min. - Text Transcript

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Looking at Marriage in Lent

Lent as: Hearing the Cry of the Poor

A little Latin class for a deeper understanding is offered here. The word for across or over in Latin is “trans.”  So many English words begin with these letters or simply “tra”. Transitory, transport, tradition, to suggest a few.  I offer this before continuing the writing of this Reflection, because of how often in the Gospel for today’s Eucharistic liturgy, there is the reality of “handing over.”  In reading or listening to the Gospel watch for how often the word “hand” or “hands” are used.  Amazing!

The Gospel for this Eucharistic liturgy begins after the reading of Jesus’ entering Jerusalem for the very first time, according to Mark’s account. He is mounted on a donkey and welcome by a crowd. Various parishes would have a procession with chants and songs recalling that event.

The Opening Prayer for the Eucharist sets the change of mood and spirit.

Mark’s narrative begins with an anointing of Jesus’ Body, as a prefiguring of His being anointed for burial. The drama then begins with Judas’ suggesting a deal by which he would “hand over” Jesus to the chief priests who would hand over money to seal the transaction. Judas then searched for the opportunity to “hand Him over.”   

Mark highlights the spirit of the Passover, the remembering the Exodus from Egypt and the lambs being prepared for slaughter. It is all coming together in this Divine Drama.

After arrangements for the Passover meal are set, the twelve are with Jesus, Who shares with them that one of them will betray or hand Him over to the Jewish authorities.

Then Jesus takes in His hands, the unleavened bread of the Passover and hands it into the hands of His friends announcing something quite unusual and hard for them to grasp at that time.  They finish the celebration and go out to a familiar place and because of the four cups of wine recalling the events of the Exodus celebrated in the Passover, the twelve fall into sleep. Jesus, after praying alone, finds the Disciples waking up and speaks to them, “The hour has come. Behold the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.”   Then He says, “Look my betrayer is at hand.”

“So Mark is not too subtle.  The Father has handed His Son to our humanity.  Jesus hands Himself into our hands to be freely rejected or accepted.

The “transing” continues during the remainder of today’s Gospel until His final handing of His life to His Father, having eaten all that His Life had to hand Him.

After the Liturgy of the Word, the community turns to the Liturgy of the Eucharist wherein is celebrated the “trans-substantiation” which is the result of the faith of the congregation and the words of remembrancing.   Jesus was not and is not a symbol of God’s love, but the human reality come to us again, not as a symbol but the reality of God’s universal saving and nourishing love.

It took the poverty of our human condition to move Infinite Love to accompany us.  It took the poverty of a young woman from Nazareth to receive that Real Presence.  It took the poverty of the twelve fishers to come follow the Catcher.  It took the poverty of these sleepers not to be able to take in all that was going on at the Passover old and now new. It took the poverty of Jesus to surrender Himself into His Father’s hands and the hands of His captors.

Into our hands He commends His Life and that is more than amazing.

This Palm Sunday, First Passion Sunday, we too join the long line of poverty in reception into our hearts what He continually hands over to us, within us, the New Passover Bread of His Life, given for us and to us when we have the poverty of receptivity. The Paschal Lamb has been slain for our Exodus and now hands His Risen Body to us for our personal and communal rising.  

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