Reflections for Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Luke 19:28-40; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14–23:56)

Allowing the Power of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus to Transform Us

It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you. (Luke 22:28-29)

Today begins Holy Week. This week we have the great privilege of standing with Jesus as he undergoes his passion.

Like the Twelve, we may not always do this perfectly. We may fall asleep in the garden instead of keeping vigil. We may strike out clumsily with a sword and miss the real foe. We may follow at a distance and even pretend that we don’t know him. Maybe we will join him only at the last moment, like the “good thief,” who recognized Jesus’ innocence and asked to be remembered in his kingdom. But no matter how successful we are, Jesus remains determined to do his Father’s will—all because of his love for us.

Today we read the story of Jesus’ passion from beginning to end. But as the week unfolds, we can relive these events more slowly, almost in real time. On Holy Thursday, we join Jesus at table and as he washes his apostles’ feet, institutes the priesthood, and offers the first Eucharist. Late into the night, we can keep watch with him in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. On Good Friday, we can accompany him along the way of the cross and stand by him on Calvary. At the Easter Vigil, we can celebrate his victory over death as we light a new fire and rejoice as our new brothers and sisters are baptized and received into the Church.

Don’t wait for the last minute! Start walking with the Lord today. Try to celebrate each liturgy with love and gratitude. Remember, Jesus is offering you nothing less than his kingdom. This is far more than the paradise he promised the good thief after death. It includes intimacy with Jesus right here, right now. Those who stay close to him will find the grace to transform suffering, the energy to live a new life, and the best comrades in the world.

“Jesus, thank you for enduring so much just to win our salvation. Help me to stand with you all week long.”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the Gospel, at the procession with palms, we read of the crowd’s joy and celebration at Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem on Sunday.  By Friday, much of this same crowd was to turn against him.  In what ways can your own relationship with Christ be like a “fair weather” friend?  What steps can you do to strengthen your relationship with Jesus?
  2. The first reading provides us with one of the many prophecies in Isaiah on the suffering Christ would endure for us.  It also speaks of a well-trained tongue the Lord has given Isaiah to “speak to the weary a word that will rouse them” (Isaiah 50:4). What steps can you take to further train your tongue to speak words of comfort to the “weary” you encounter during the day?
  3. Again in the Responsorial Psalm, we find words foretelling Christ’s suffering.  As in the first reading, even in the midst of his suffering, Jesus prays to and honors God. What are some of the reasons, listed in the first reading and the Responsorial Psalm, that enabled him to do this? How well do you handle suffering and misfortune in your own life? What can you learn from the first reading and the Responsorial Psalm that will help to strengthen you in times of suffering and trials?
  4. In the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul says that Christ “emptied himself” of his rights as God to save us.  Do you tend to stand on your “rights” in your relationships with others?  In order to serve others, what areas might God be asking you to empty yourself of?
  5. In Luke’s version of the passion narrative, at supper the disciples are arguing about which of them is the greatest. He tells them to “let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” Christ then gives them himself as an example: “I am among you as the one who serves”.  In imitation of Christ, how might you be of more loving service to others in your family, or in your parish, or at work?
  6. Later on at the “Mount of Olives,” Jesus asks his disciples to pray with him, but instead they fall asleep. As Jesus’ disciples, how can you free yourself during Holy Week to spend extra time with Christ in prayer and Scripture reading?
  7. The meditation speaks of ways to “relive” the events of Holy Week and make them more real to you. What steps can you take to open yourself more to the transforming power of Jesus’ Cross and resurrection?
  8. Take some time now to pray and ask Jesus for the grace to “stand” with him during Holy Week and to increase your gratitude for what he did for you through his passion, death, and resurrection. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.