Introduction: The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith, and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering: the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the drama of the trial, culminating in the crucifixion, death, and burial of the Christ.

 

Scripture lessons summarized: Today’s first reading, the third of Isaiah’s four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus’ own life and mission. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22),” My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” plunges us into the heart of Christ’s Passion. The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death. The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him for a distance of the two miles between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem. In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to/participate in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to Luke. We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story – like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience as he condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.

 

Life Messages: We need to answer 5 Questions today.

1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as he wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of his Palm Sunday procession?

 2) Am I a barren fig tree? God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness. Do I? Or worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness?

3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip? Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit (which I have become), by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust, impure thoughts, words, and deeds; nor does Jesus praise my business mentality or calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart? Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Saviour? Let us remember that we are all sinners who have crucified Jesus by our sins, but we are still able to turn to Jesus again to ask for pardon and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is through the Passion of Jesus that we receive forgiveness: “with His stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5).

5) Are we liking the humble donkey that carried Jesus, bringing Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial service to our families, places of work, and communities by the way we live our lives?

 

Significance of the Holy Week:

1) A week of remembrance and appreciation

2) A week of thanksgiving

3) A week of repentance and reconciliation

4) A week to keep Christ’s New Commandment of Agape love

5) A week to deepen our Faith and strengthen our relationship with God.

 

Significance of Palm Sunday:

 A day to remember two contrasting moments of Christ’s triumph and tragedy.

Anecdote: American president Abraham Lincoln had his moment of triumph and tragedy 156 years ago in 1865. Palm Sunday in 1865 marked the end of the Civil war. The General of the Confederate Army surrendered to the General of the Union Army. It was the greatest moment of triumph for the American president Abraham Lincoln. But he was assassinated five days later, on Good Friday, the greatest tragedy for the president and the nation.

Today’s Scripture readings: In the first reading, Jesus Christ is presented as the “suffering Servant” of Isaiah’s prophecy.

In the second reading from the Philippians, Jesus’ saving mission is highlighted.

 

In the first part of today’s Gospel reading, we have the details of Jesus’ triumphant reception to the city of Jerusalem given. We are told that Jesus’ followers welcomed him, riding on a donkey, as king and saviour. We also told how Jesus wept over Jerusalem, cleansed the Temple of Jerusalem and cursed a barren fig tree.

But in the second part, the reding of the Passion from the Gospel of Luke, we reflect on Jesus’ unjust trial and humiliating, cruel torture and crucifixion.

 

Life messages: Questions we should ask:

1)Does Jesus weep over the sinful situation of our souls?

2) Am I a barren fig tree?

3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip?

4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart as our personal Saviour and God?

5) Are we ready to carry Jesus like donkey on Palm Sunday to our homes and workplaces, conveying his love, mercy, compassion and spirit of forgiveness to others?