Gospel Reflection: Good Friday (Celebration of the Lord’s Passion) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Good Friday

GOSPEL REFLECTION: GOOD FRIDAY
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*
GOSPEL: John 18:1-19,42
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

*
REFLECTION
On Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist, instead, we have the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and Communion Service. This is the one day that the Church omits the celebration of Mass when She commemorates the Passion as it really happened in time. The commemoration of the Passion on Good Friday, the reality of the sacrifice is presented to us, not as a sacrament (i.e. not through the Mass) but “as it was really accomplished.” The Church invites us to once again reflect on the Passion of our Lord i.e. to be a witness and experience the saving work of Christ. That is why today we don’t celebrate a Mass, instead, we mourn the death of our Lord. And we give reverence to the Cross on which our salvation was achieved.
I was contemplating on the seven last words of Jesus.What struck me was the very last words of Jesus – “It is finished.” “Consummatum est!” It was Jesus’ very important last words. John 19:30 “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” But what does Jesus’ words “It is finished” really mean?To understand this clearly, we should bear in mind that Jesus did not say “I am finished” or “I am done” It was not a cry of despair nor defeat. But rather, it was a declaration of victory. It was just like reporting to the commander-in-chief – “My task is done, it is mission accomplished.” When the servant had finished his work, when the job was completed, the servant would say to his master – it is finished! The master will say to the servant “well done!” I am pretty sure that the Master i.e. the Father is so pleased with the work that is done. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus had always said that He came not to do his own will but that of the Father. He had a mission and work to do directly from the Father and is now completed. The work is done. It was perfect. Salvation is accomplished. Redemption is attained through Jesus death and resurrection. The debt of sin was paid.
What a sacrifice! It was God’s revelation of His immeasurable love for mankind. He gave us His only Son. We call Jesus as the Lamb of God. In professing that Jesus is the Lamb of God in our celebration of the Mass, we are recalling His sacrificial death on the Cross. This precisely is our focus on today’s reflection.
At this point, allow me to share with you a story: Two brothers lived together in the same apartment. The elder brother was an honest, hardworking and God-fearing man, while the younger was dishonest, gun totting substance abusing rogue. Many a night the younger brother would come back into the apartment late, drunk and with a lot of cash – and the elder brother would spend hours pleading him to mend his ways and live a decent life. But the younger brother would not listen.
One night, the younger brother came running into the house with a smoking gun and his clothes were bloodstained. “I killed a man,” he announced. In a few minutes, the house was surrounded by police and two brothers knew there was no escape. “I did not mean to kill him,” stammered the younger brother, “and I don’t want to die.” By now the police was knocking at the door.” The elder brother had an idea. He exchanged his clothes with blood-stained clothes of his killer brother. The police arrested him, tried him and he was condemned to death. What a great sacrifice. He died for his younger brother out of his love for him.
In the same manner, that Jesus sacrifices himself that we may live out of his love for us. He took upon himself our guilt. For our sake, he suffered and died on the Cross. All these, because he loves us immensely.”There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”
“It is love to the end.” (John 13:1) We come to realize his love by what it costs him. But may this love of Christ that we have come to realize be a reason for us to become more loving people. Realizing the depth of His love should make us grow more of our love of God and our fellowmen.

Advertisements

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Palm Sunday by Rev. Fr. Allen Bclor Abadines

Palm Sunday - Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (B)
March 25,2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*
GOSPEL: Mark 15:22-39
The soldiers brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha – which is translated into Place of the Skull. They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read: “The King of the Jews.” With him, they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Likewise, the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from the top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

*
REFLECTION:
Story: (Unknown source) Most Important Part Of The Body
My mother used to often ask me what the most important part of the body was. Young as I was, I thought the sound was very important to us humans. So I’d say, “My ears, mommy!” “No!” she would say. “There are so many people who are deaf! But you keep thinking and I will ask you again soon.” And so it went until several years passed before she asked me again. Since making my first attempt, I contemplate the correct answer. Or so I thought I had! So this time I told her, “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.” She looked at me and told me, “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.”
Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and after a few years, mother asked me a couple of times more and always her answer was, “No, But you are getting smarter every year, my child.”
Then one year, my grandfather died. Everybody was upset and everybody was crying.
Even my father wept I remember that, especially because that was only the second time in my life that I had ever seen him cry.
My mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final goodbye to grandpa, she asked me, “Don’t you know the most important body part yet, my dear?” I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave as the answer in the past, I have told you, was wrong, even giving you the reason why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes welling up with tears. She said, “My dear, the most important part of the body is your shoulder.”
“Why? Is it because it holds up my head?” I asked.
“No,” she replied,”it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry/ Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes in life, my dear. On our shoulder, we can show compassion for others. On our shoulder, we can share with them their sorrow and their tears. Therefore, have your shoulders always ready for a friend and or a loved one to cry on when they need it.”
The most important body part is not a selfish one. It is being sympathetic to the pain of others. Likewise, on His shoulder, Jesus carried the cross. We are that cross.On his shoulders Jesus carried us. For the cross was Jesus’ ultimate service for mankind. On his shoulder rest the salvation of mankind. His cross revealed Christ’ compassion and a love immeasurable.
Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is inviting us to reflect on the importance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Jesus with joy. John 12:13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel.” It was a welcome fitted to a King. Among the crowds were probably some of the people whom Jesus served, some of them may have received physical healing, some of them may have listened to the preaching of our Lord and they were spiritually touched, some of them may have witnessed Jesus’ miracles and or probably among them Jesus had fed.
A little boy once asked me this question, but Father, why did Jesus choose to ride on a donkey? I said, riding on a donkey means royalty. So, when Jesus instructed his disciples to get the donkey, it was like a proclamation of him being King and of his divinity. The donkey, however, symbolized the kind of Jesus’ Kingship – It’s a Kingdom of Peace and of Love! John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world.” There was a great rejoicing when Jesus entered Jerusalem. But I wonder what was going on in his mind as he enters Jerusalem? Our Lord Jesus was certain of what He was going to face in the city of Jerusalem. Entering Jerusalem means his hour has come. Jesus is now about to face his death. Therefore in the midst of that great rejoicing, there was sadness in his heart. He knew that those people glorifying him will also be the same people who would cry out for his death. Sic transit gloria hominae.(Thus passes the glory of men!) Jesus’ image of a King as he entered Jerusalem is like a lamb ready and willing to be slaughtered. All these, out of his great trust, obedience, and love of the Father.
Today we are to bless those palms, symbols of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, symbols of his Kingship and Divinity, symbols of his sacrifice and great love. We will keep those blessed palms at home until they all wither. On Ash Wednesday, we will burn them.The ashes will be imposed on our forehead by the priest reminding us of our mortality. “You are dust and unto dust, you shall return. Death to us no longer has a final say. For Christ emerged victoriously.And his victory is also our victory.”Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) There may be sadness now in our heart as we reflect on the passion of our Lord, yet we anticipate the joy of Easter. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

HOMILY: Palm Sunday Of The Passion Of The Lord by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

palm sunday

GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.
From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
*
___________________________________________

REFLECTION:

Today marks the beginning of our spiritual sojourn through Holy Week to the celebration of Easter. We begin our reflection of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The Liturgy of this Sunday allows us to experience both joy and sadness, success and failure, and victory and defeat.I would say that the Liturgy of the Word could be divided into two parts. The first part brings us joy and triumph as we reflect on the glorious entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. The traditional blessing of palms as well as the re-enactment of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem bring us a sense of victory. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people gave him a welcome fitted to a King. With the waving of palms in their hands and the singing of ‘hosanna’ they praised God. “And as he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciple began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying ; ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'”

The second part , however , invites us to reflect on the passion and death of our Lord Jesus. This is the reason why, for me, Palm Sunday is both an experience of joy and pain. We are almost sure of what’s going on in Jesus’ mind as he enters Jerusalem. He knew that great suffering and death await him there. He had already predicted several times in the past his impending persecution and death; yet like to a lamb, he willingly welcomed and embraced his fate. The people of Jerusalem must be very excited, they must have heard how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. His preaching and the many miracles Jesus performed must have reached their ears. And so their singing of ‘hosanna’ as Jesus enters Jerusalem must be a declaration of their faith in Jesus as the coming Messiah. “Hosanna” literally means “I beg you to save us.” But soon their faith would be challenged.That old saying in Latin , “Sic transit gloria hominae” (Thus passes the glory of men) proved to be true. How easily for them to have a change of heart. For those very same people who were singing ‘hosanna’ were also the same people who will cry out for his death – ‘crucify him!’

The drama of Palm Sunday reflects the reality of life. Life as we know is replete both of an experience of joy and sorrow. In fact, we appreciate those moments of happiness because we too have experienced suffering. We rejoice in our victory because we also experienced the agony of defeat. But lest we only focus on suffering and death,the message of Palm Sunday is clear – that in the end is triumph , life and glory. The Christ who suffered and died is also the one who resurrected. And his triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a sign of his return in glory at the end of time. Jesus says , “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

On Palm Sunday we are invited to reflect on the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus. The image of Jesus hanging on the Cross is a reflection of what is there deep inside the heart of God – it is filled with his love for mankind.Direct from the Cross , our Crucified Lord is like telling each one of us “I love you with all my heart. You may forget me but I will never forget you. This is the promise I made , that is , to be with you till the end of time. And I will always be true to this love because you are mine. I will always whisper to your heart until you understand that my love for you is eternal.” We are unworthy but Christ in his obedience to the will of the Father took our place and died for us. The Cross of Jesus is a sign of Love and a sign of Life. As we enter Holy Week, we therefore enter into the very core of the heart of God. Our deepest longing should not only be a sense of gratitude but a profound desire to change our ways so that somehow we may be worthy of his love.

Homily: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (B) by Pater Allen B. Abadines

palm7
GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (B)
March 29,2015
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*
GOSPEL: Mark 15:22-39
The soldiers brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha – which is translated Place of the Skull. They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read: “The King of the Jews.” With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from the top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

*
REFLECTION:
Story: (Unknown source) Most Important Part Of The Body
My mother used to often ask me what the most important part of the body was. Young as I was, I thought sound was very important to us humans. So I’d say, “My ears, mommy!” “No!” she would say. “There are so many people who are deaf! But you keep thinking and I will ask you again soon.” And so it went until several years passed before she asked me again. Since making my first attempt, I contemplate the correct answer. Or so I thought I had! So this time I told her, “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.” She looked at me and told me, “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.”
Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and after a few years, mother asked me a couple of times more and always her answer was, “No, But you are getting smarter every year, my child.”
Then one year, my grandfather died. Everybody was upset and everybody was crying.
Even my father wept I remember that especially because that was only the second time in my life that I had ever seen him cry.
My mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final good-bye to grandpa, she asked me, “Don’t you know the most important body part yet, my dear?” I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave as the answer in the past, I have told you, was wrong, even giving you the reason why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes welling up with tears. She said, “My dear, the most important part of the body is your shoulder.”
“Why? Is it because it holds up my head?” I asked.
“No,” she replied,”it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry/ Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes in life, my dear. On our shoulder we can show compassion on others. On our shoulder we can share with them their sorrow and their tears. Therefore, have your shoulders always ready for a friend and or a loved one to cry on when they need it.”
The most important body part is not a selfish one. It is being sympathetic to the pain of others. Likewise, on His shoulder, Jesus carried the cross. We are that cross.On his shoulders Jesus carried us . For the cross was Jesus’ ultimate service for mankind. On his shoulder rest the salvation of mankind. His cross revealed Christ’ compassion and a love immeasurable.
Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is inviting us to reflect on the importance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Jesus with joy. John 12:13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel.” It was a welcome fitted to a King. Among the crowds were probably some of the people whom Jesus served, some of them may have received physical healing, some of them may have listened to the preaching of our Lord and they were spiritually touched, some of them may have witnessed Jesus’ miracles and or probably among them Jesus had fed.
A little boy once asked me this question, but father, why did Jesus choose to ride on a donkey? I said, riding on a donkey means royalty. So, when Jesus instructed his disciples to get the donkey, it was like a proclamation of him being King and of his divinity. The donkey, however, symbolized the kind of Jesus’ Kingship – It’s a Kingdom of Peace and of Love! John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world.” There was a great rejoicing when Jesus entered Jerusalem. But I wonder what was going on in his mind as he enters Jerusalem? Our Lord Jesus was certain of what He was going to face in the city of Jerusalem. Entering Jerusalem means his hour has come. Jesus is now about to face his death. Therefore in the midst of that great rejoicing there was sadness in his heart. He knew that those people glorifying him will also be the same people who would cry out for his death. Sic transit gloria hominae.(Thus passes the glory of men!) Jesus’ image of a King as he entered Jerusalem is like a lamb ready and willing to be slaughtered. All these, out of his great trust, obedience and love of the Father.
Today we are to bless those palms, symbols of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, symbols of his Kingship and Divinity, symbols of his sacrifice and great love. We will keep those blessed palms at home until they all wither. On Ash Wednesday, we will burn them.The ashes will be imposed on our forehead by the priest reminding us of our mortality. “You are dust and unto dust you shall return. Death to us no longer has a final say. For Christ emerged victorious.And his victory is also our victory.”Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) There maybe sadness now in our heart as we reflect on the passion of our Lord, yet we anticipate the joy of Easter. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Homily: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (C) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

palm2

GOSPEL REFLECTION: PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)
Sunday, 20th March 2016
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
LUKE 22:33-43

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one in his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched, the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, ” He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine, they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
*
REFLECTION:
Today marks the beginning of our spiritual sojourn through Holy Week to the celebration of Easter. We begin our reflection of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The Liturgy of this Sunday allows us to experience both joy and sadness, success and failure, and victory and defeat. I would say that the Liturgy of the Word could be divided into two parts. The first part brings us joy and triumph as we reflect on the glorious entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. The traditional blessing of palms as well as the re-enactment of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem bring us a sense of victory. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people gave him a welcome fitted to a King. With the waving of palms in their hands and the singing of ‘hosanna’ they praised God. “And as he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciple began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying ; ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'”
The second part , however , invites us to reflect on the passion and death of our Lord Jesus. This is the reason why, for me, Palm Sunday is both an experience of joy and pain. We are almost sure of what’s going on in Jesus’ mind as he enters Jerusalem. He knew that great suffering and death await him there. He had already predicted several times in the past his impending persecution and death; yet like to a lamb, he willingly welcomed and embraced his fate. The people of Jerusalem must be very excited, they must have heard how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. His preaching and the many miracles Jesus performed must have reached their ears. And so their singing of ‘hosanna’ as Jesus enters Jerusalem must be a declaration of their faith in Jesus as the coming Messiah. “Hosanna” literally means “I beg you to save us.” But soon their faith would be challenged. That old saying in Latin , “Sic transit gloria hominae” (Thus passes the glory of men) proved to be true. How easily for them to have a change of heart. For those very same people who were singing ‘hosanna’ were also the same people who will cry out for his death – ‘crucify him!’
The drama of Palm Sunday reflects the reality of life. Life as we know is replete both of an experience of joy and sorrow. In fact, we appreciate those moments of happiness because we too have experienced suffering. We rejoice in our victory because we also experienced the agony of defeat. But lest we only focus on suffering and death, the message of Palm Sunday is clear – that in the end is triumph , life and glory. The Christ who suffered and died is also the one who resurrected. And his triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a sign of his return in glory at the end of time. Jesus says , “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
On Palm Sunday we are invited to reflect on the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus. The image of Jesus hanging on the Cross is a reflection of what is there deep inside the heart of God – it is filled with his love for mankind. We are unworthy but Christ in his obedience to the will of the Father took our place and died for us. The Cross of Jesus is a sign of Love and a sign of Life. As we enter Holy Week, we therefore enter into the very core of the heart of God. Our deepest longing should not only be a sense of gratitude but a profound desire to change our ways so that somehow we may be worthy of his love.

palm1
Cross made out of palm fronds.