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Palm Sunday Yr A – the crucified messiah

April 12, 2011

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Reflection Questions:

  1. The Procession into Church with Palms and singing ‘Hosanna’ marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palms were symbolic of victory. Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word ‘Save us now’. Riding on a donkey was the animal of choice in ancient times for Kings-to-be, portraying peace (rather than a horse used for battle). Placing cloaks on the road in front of the donkey was the ancient equivalent of the modern ‘red carpet’ treatment for special dignitaries. The scene is set. We are welcoming the Messiah – the ‘Christ’. Take time to imagine the scene, experience the hope, the joy. Can you identify with the symbols of today: the Palms, the Hosanna Cry, the throwing of your cloak?
  2. The Passion Reading from Matthew has many details. There is betrayal by close friends, the violence of crowds, political and religious leaders protecting self interests, rulers symbolically trying to ‘wash themselves of blood’. What aspect of the Passion grabbed your attention?
  3. Raymond Brown a Catholic Scripture scholar warns against a self-righteous reading and celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This week the curtain is about to come up on the drama that will ultimately change the world We are there and it is now. The Gospel is convicting. Today. Can you see how the same issues are present today. Where do you ‘fit’ in this Gospel? Judas – selling out on God for money? Fleeing disciples – worrying so much about one’s own safety? Peter – professing and denying Jesus within the hour? Soldiers – carrying out unjust instructions from above, persecuting the innocent without thought? Pilate – pretending to be powerless, washing hands of justice and choosing to ignore evil? Religious Leaders – condemning Jesus and preferring the rules are kept and people are ‘safe’?
  4. Matthew has some particular details that teach us about Christ’s death. To emphasize the historical and theological importance of Jesus’ death signs expected at the end of time and history as we know it are portrayed true to Old Testament prophecy. Darkness, Elijah returning, earthquakes, the old order being overturned (raising of the just). A theological reference to the special veil inside the Temple which separated everyone from the ‘Holy of Holies’ – the place where God dwelt – is mentioned. Judaism has come to an end. The new temple, altar, sacrifice, the new dwelling place, God is now unveiled in Jesus, on the Cross. History has turned. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. A new historical and theological order is present. A new covenant has been established. Do you see? Believe?
  5. What is one action that you will do to ‘livetheword’ this week?

 

 

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