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Contents: Volume 2 - Palm Sunday

04-14-2019  Year C


 

~~~

PALM

Sunday

2019

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

 

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1.

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Palm Sunday 2019

What challenged me in the readings this Palm Sunday is the difference in Jesus when he demonstrates that he is fully divine and that he is fully human. How this occurs simultaneously remains indeed a mystery. It is not too hard to attribute "divinity" or "humanity" to what Jesus says and does and, for me, this gives some insight into how we might be able to act more godly.

The beginning of this long Gospel selection reminds me of a farewell speech with some admonition given lovingly by Jesus to those he truly loved. His care for them is evident as is his concern. There is a mixture of giving them strategies to live by, reminiscent of someone going off on just a long trip and leaving loved ones behind, with actually knowing that the harsh future will test these friends to their limit.

The humanity in Jesus really does not want to suffer this cruel death and Jesus asks the Father if it really has to be that way. His human anguish appears as drops of bloody sweat. Then, receiving the will of the Father and strength to fulfill it, Jesus proceeds resolutely to his certain horrible death. Along the way , he manages to treat Judas rather gently (given the circumstances) and even heals the soldier's ear knowing that this hour of violence and darkness would not prevail.

Then there is Peter, dear Peter. also a mix, but a mix of good intentions (a glimpse of Who created him) and falling into temptation (the reality we humans must face). Then there is Pilate, a person in authority who knows right from wrong but who bows to public pressure and becomes complicit in Jesus's Passion and Death. There are more people in the story: Simon of Cyrene, the weeping women of Jerusalem along the way, the two criminals executed with Jesus, the centurion, the women at the tomb who had followed Jesus to the Cross, and Joseph of Arimathea.

Where do we see ourselves among all these people? What have our past thoughts and actions been regarding the will of the Father ? When have we known the right thing to do but just didn't do it? How will reflecting on Jesus's Passion and Death and the people he encounters lead us to be strengthened to embrace His Resurrection and ours ? What darkness holds us back? How can we change the path we are on to realign it more closely with the will of the Father? How can we be instrumental in changing our future? Many questions... time for prayer!

 

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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2.

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Palm Sunday April 14 2019

Procession of Palms Luke 19:28-40; Isaiah 50:4-7; Responsorial Psalm 22: Philippians 2:6-11; Gospel Acclamation 2:8-9; Luke 22:14-23:56

Doesn’t it seem more than a little strange, this Palm Sunday’s liturgy of the Word? We begin Palm Sunday outside the church with a gospel reading that is about triumph, recognition, and high hopes among the pilgrims flocking to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Jesus is coming to Jerusalem, the center of the Hebrew universe, the place where God dwells among men. He comes in riding a donkey and not a great warhorse more appropriate to a conquering king. All this has been foretold in the great prophets. The Jews were all people of the Book. They knew their history, they loved their prophets, and they relished in the Wisdom their Book contained. But all those words so carefully written and copied in the scrolls were in a sense unreal. Perhaps we can relate to the unreality of it all by how we view not only the Hebrew Book but also the Christian Book. We wonder what it would be like to have seen Jesus in the flesh, to have heard his voice, to have witnessed his miracles. And we think of it all as some distant, long ago thing that happened. We have a nagging thought that none of this applies to us. That’s the grand mystery of this most Holy of Weeks in our year of worship. All that we hear, all that we imagine is really about us here and now. It was about our ancestors whether we look at the persons who lived two thousand years ago or just last century. The Liturgy of the Word we hear each Sunday is about us. If we listen with open hearts we’ll come to understand. And in understanding we’ll come to live the truth of creation and the wonder of a Creator who loves his creation unconditionally. We’ll come to understand this great truth – God has made us free and wants us to be all that we choose to be. Even if our choices are harmful to us, God continues to love us with the hope that we’ll turn-around, find within ourselves the consciousness of his abiding presence.

This Palm Sunday readings are weird. We begin the liturgy of the Word with a magnificent outpouring of hope and expectation by the crowds of people coming into Jerusalem for the Highest Holy Days, the celebration of Passover. Luke is good at explaining the excitement of the crowd who believe that Jesus is the promised successor to the great King David. Surely after the harsh and cruel occupation by the Romans under the heavy hand of Pontius Pilate, there was a reprieve just around the corner. Hosanna to the Son of David – blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. What Joy, What Excitement, What unbridled Hope swirled in the hearts of those hundreds, perhaps thousands of people on their pilgrimage to their Faith Home!

When we settle down into a place in the Assembly of persons who believe, who hope, and who struggle to love as our God does love us, we listen to a portion of the Prophet Isaiah. It’s apparent we’re back to reality. It’s a tough message. Isaiah portrays the promised one as one who struggles, who is treated harshly. He is beaten and bruised; he is slapped around, his beard plucked. Yet this promised one does not waiver, does not turn aside from his mission. His face is set like flint in the face of adversity and rejection. Is this not what we will hear in Paul’s letter to the Philippians and in Luke’s account of the last hours of Jesus’ life?

Paul adds the truth of Jesus’ last hours. Jesus is in the form of the Divine, of God. Yet he takes no pride, he takes no privilege from his Divinity. Paul describes the heart of Jesus in those magnificent words: "obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis!" He was obedient unto death, even death on a cross! That word "obedient" has for more than fifty years been a stumbling block for me. God created us with the gift of freedom, the wonderful capacity to be conscious of our choices and the reasons for those choices. For those five decades I looked on "obedience" as a surrender of freedom. For me it was a denial of God’s gift of choice and of consciousness of the meaning and impact of choice. I went looking a lot further down in the Cassell’s Latin dictionary of obediens. In the third place, Cassell defined "obediens" as "listening with the heart." How different than a blind surrender of God’s great gift! In that understanding, Paul’s poetic statement of Jesus’ intention took on a greater meaning. What was it that Jesus listened to with his heart? What does the consciousness of Jesus say about accepting a terrible, shameful, violent death? Why? Why? Why? In the gospel narratives leading up to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that terrible week in spring, we heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb of his death. We also heard of Jesus throwing out the merchants and traders in the temple area. We call that time the cleansing of the Temple. Ordinary commerce had been allowed to grow and take the place of God’s presence for the people. Thieves and charlatans dwelt there and profited off the faith of pilgrims and residents of Judaea. It was then that Jesus promised the abiding and continued presence of God among the people. It was obvious that the authorities who profited from and depended upon the revenue and prestige of their roles in the temple would not consider Jesus as a prophet much less the Messiah. It was way too threatening that Jesus was in some way able to raise up a dead person. This was too much power for the leadership of the religious. This was way too much power for the Roman occupiers to allow. The religious leadership feared the Romans would react to this Jesus and remove them and their temple from their authority. They sought the status quo no matter what the consequences for any other. If only Jesus would mitigate his message. If only Jesus would soften his message of unity of all, bringing in the poor, the tax collectors, the blind, the lame, the lepers and any and all others on the margins. If only he would bend his message of eternal life to something more traditional. If only he would recognize the teaching that the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous were the good people and all others were sinners. If only he would teach that God only loves those he gives great things to. But Jesus was true to his message and his ministry, and his allegiance to the Creator. The life of God, the eternal life the hearts of all persons longed for, is love for each other, is care and concern for what God has created, and is faithfulness to the acceptance of God’s love. That is the unity of God: that is God’s connection with creation: that is God’s relationship to each person.

That sounds like a simple message, too easy for a demanding God. But it’s the truth. And for that truth, Jesus was faithful even unto death, even death on a cross. Just as the Word of God created all that is because of the love for all that is, so also the Word of God recreated all that is by accepting and transforming the pain that we extend to each other and to the common home of us all. By taking on the pain, Jesus is victorious. The victory is one of brightness and light. The gloom and darkness of human life, the pain and misery that often accompanies it are overcome. In the Cross of Jesus we have a road sign that leads us to living in a new way.

We know how this story ends. We know that on the first day of the week following his awful death, Mary Magdalen comes to the tomb where they laid him to grieve. And she finds it empty and encounters a gardener – well she thought it a gardener till he spoke his favorite name for her. It was a woman who announced the greatness of God’s work that day. She is called the "apostle to the apostles." How very fitting that it is a woman from whom we learn about the victory of the Messiah. How very fitting it is that it is a woman who first becomes conscious of Jesus as The Christ. For the Book of Genesis tells us it was a woman who first became aware of the great gift of freedom and consciousness God had given us as the gift that distinguishes us from all other creation. Who can calculate the thousands of years it has taken to understand and join in the great mystery of God living among humanity? What a joy we are going to celebrate. But first we must go through the pain of denying that the way of the world is empty. No matter how many insist the pursuit of the way of the world, we understand that our hearts are not made for those things. As Augustine wrote in the fourth century of Christianity, our hearts are made for God and we are restless until we rest in Him.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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A PEP TALK FOR PALM SUNDAY

We are beginning today the best week in the whole liturgical year. Centuries ago it was called the ‘Great Week’. Nowadays we call it ‘Holy Week’. We follow Jesus every step of the way. We have started with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where he is welcomed, applauded and acclaimed, by a big crowd of followers. On Thursday we will join him at table and receive the gift of himself in bread and wine. After dining with him we will walk with him along the path that leads from the Upper Room to the Garden of Olives. There we will see him falling to the ground in fear and anxiety about the cruel death that awaits him. Friday will find us standing beside his mother at the foot of the cross, and feeling compassion for him in both his physical agony and his mental torment.

We will be feeling especially some of his sense of being alone and abandoned, betrayed and deserted, not only by friends and followers, but even by God. On Saturday we will be quiet and silent around his tomb, as we remember the injustice, hostility and cruelty, of all those evil men who murdered him. Then, late on Saturday, we will move from the darkness of our journey to the place of the brightly burning fire. There we will join the procession of the great Easter Candle, representing the risen Christ, as he lights up the darkness of our church and lives.

There and then, the pain and sadness of our journey with Jesus to Calvary, will give way to the hope and joy that comes with our awareness. Jesus Christ is not dead and gone. No, he is alive, strong and powerful, alive in himself, and alive in us. And so we will be hearing in our hearts those assuring words that the mystic Juliana of Norwich, in her vision of Christ crucified, heard from his own lips: 'All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.'

Do we too believe that?

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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