Palm Sunday

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 26, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for Palm Sunday 2012.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord [b]

April 1, 2012


Gospel for the Procession of Palms: Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16
Isaiah 50:4-7
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1--15:47 or Mark 15:1-39


March 31: Earth Hour: 8:30 to 9:30 pm  
March 31: Cesar Chavez Day
April 1: Palm Sunday
April 5: Holy Thursday
April 6: Good Friday
April 6; Passover begins at sundown
April 7: Holy Saturday
April 7: World Health Day
April 8: Easter Sunday


The radical transformation of the world in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord gives full meaning to the efforts of people to lessen injustice, violence and hatred and to advance all together in justice, freedom, kinship and love.
-- Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World

It is by uniting their own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross that human beings are able to accomplish the miracle of peace and are in a position to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse.
-- John Paul II, Centesium Annus, 25

The Cross stands before us in these days as an eloquent symbol of God's love for humanity. … In his Passion, Death and Resurrection, we are shown that the last word in human existence is not death but God's victory over death. Divine love, manifested in its fullness in the paschal mystery, overcomes death and sin, which is its cause (cf. Rom 5: 12).
-- John Paul II, General Audience, April 19, 2000

Is not one of our problems today that we have separated ourselves from the poor and the wounded and the suffering?
-- Jean Vanier

Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.
-- Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World

Thoughts for your consideration

Isaiah speaks of both speaking and listening. The servant of God is both a person who can speak boldly with a well trained tongue and a person whose ears and heart are open for listening.  If we are to heal the brokenness of our world, we all need the grace both to listen and to speak. One alone is not enough if we are be “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war, violence, and injustice which divide us. One alone is not enough if we are to respond to the needs of the world and its people. Jesus is such a servant – one who is connected with our life and struggle and world.

The whole passion story reminds us that the type of authority of Jesus is different than that of a worldly power. Christ “emptied himself and became the servant of all.”  We need this spirit if we are to be we are be “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war, violence, selfishness and injustice which divide us.

We can treat the passion in a sentimental sort of way and force a certain sense of grief upon ourselves, blaming our personal sin for Jesus’ death.  More importantly, we are called to connect Jesus’ experience to our own experience today – an experience that includes life and death, injustice and courage, violence and peace.  We cannot contemplate Jesus’ suffering without contemplating the suffering of our world and its people.


Why is the crowd in the Palm Sunday story so excited?
Jesus has no military, economic, or political power. 
He is a simple human being with no significant material assets.

Why is there a sense of excitement as we begin to enter the Holy Week experience?
Shouldn’t we be ready to give up? [After all Jesus is about to be killed.]
Shouldn’t we be discouraged by the human situation today – by war, violence of all sorts, selfishness, failure, injustice, discrimination, poverty, etc.? 
Do we really want to or need to remember the pain and the sorrow that we see in the passion of Christ?

There was an excitement in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus and there is an excitement as we process with palms. Why?

Is it a sense of excitement because God is among us and part of our human situation?
Is it a sense that God is with us in the midst of all the suffering and injustice?
Is it a sense that God is present in the midst of our deepest longings and dreams?
Is it a sense that God is present in the midst of our deepest struggle for what is right?
Is it a sense that God is here in the midst of the great story of liberation and freedom?
Is it a sense that God is calling us to work for liberation and justice?
Is it a sense that apparent defeat is not the final word?

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What is your reaction to the passion of Jesus? 
Are you discouraged by the death of this man?
Are you discouraged today by things like, war, violence of all sorts, selfishness, failure, injustice, discrimination, poverty, etc.? 
Are you discouraged by our current economic problems and the way they are being dealt with?
Do you find any hope in the passion story?


Jesus is welcomed into the city and then is put to death.
Public opinion can change very quickly.
Share examples of how public opinion changes in our culture.
Does this result in injustice?  How are people hurt? 

“Crazy Facts”

There are over 3000 people on death row in the United States.

Circles of Support is an organization which exists in order to encourage families and children of the incarcerated, and provide helpful information for all interested persons.  Laura Kaeppeler, Miss Wisconsin 2011, founded Circles of Support as a result of her personal experience. The following statistics are from their web site at
* Nationwide, more than two million children have a parent who is incarcerated in state or federal prison or local jail.
* Children with imprisoned parents are almost six times more likely than their peers to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.
* About one in 40 children have an incarcerated father.
* More than ten million children have parents who were at one time imprisoned.
* About one in 359 children have an incarcerated mother.
* There is no one agency responsible for their welfare.
* Anger, isolation, sadness, fear, anxiety and guilt are commonly experienced emotions for these children.
* School failure, delinquency and intergenerational incarceration are common outcomes.

 “Over 30,000 immigrants are detained every day. This is triple the number detained just ten years ago. Immigrants can be detained for months or years without any meaningful judicial review - this despite international human rights standards requiring judicial review. It costs about $95 per day to detain someone, while effective alternatives only cost $12 per day.” 
~ Amnesty International, “Jailed without Justice”


You can find the story of the Butterfly and the Tree at


Actions – Links

Reflection on the Passion of Christ calls us to reflect on and take action to address the violence and injustice that exists in our world today.

Stop Family Violence is an “organization working to bring survivor voices - and the voices of their allies - to bear on the social and political agendas affecting their lives.”  There site often asks people to take action on political issues. 

Pax Christi “strives to create a world that reflects the Peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence.” 

The War Resisters League “affirms that all war is a crime against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind of war, international or civil, and to strive nonviolently for the removal of all causes of war.” 

The Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty The U.S. Catholic bishops have been calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for over 25 years. Go to  or or check out the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty at

Immigrants to the United States are often victims of injustice by our criminal justice system. Amnesty International has a report "Jailed without Justice" that exposes the immigration detention system in the United States as broken and unnecessarily costly.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: The Lord God is our help.
For those in any way find themselves sharing today in the suffering of Christ, we pray….
For all those in prison or jail, we pray….
For all those unjustly condemned by our criminal justice system, we pray….
For those who are criticized or attacked for trying to do what is right, we pray…
For those oppressed by unjust political systems, we pray….
For those who are victims of lies and unjust attacks, we pray….
For those who are victims of torture and political oppression, we pray…..
For an end to all our wars, we pray….
For those in any way find themselves sharing in the passion of Christ, we pray….

Prayer - Meditation

Stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ

1. Jesus is condemned to death
    Jesus is trapped by the same system that brings us the death penalty, the harshness of life in prison, political prisoners, torture, white color crime, racial profiling, the criminalization of the poor, the detention of immigrants, and all the inequities of our world’s “criminal justice systems.”

2. Jesus is made to carry his cross
    Jesus carries his burden as do all those who work the land, labor for low wages, struggle to find work, care for their children and family, loose their homes through foreclosure, worry over their debts, strive for their children, attend poor schools, are abused by their bosses, or in any way struggle to make it in this world.

3. Jesus falls the first time
    The burden that crushes Jesus can be compared to the burdens of today - the burden of debt that crushes the poor economies of the world - the unequal distribution of resources which stifles development for many people and nations – the burden of an economic system that oppressed the environment.

4. Jesus meets his mother
    Jesus looks on his mother with love and sees all the pain and possibility of relationship, deep family love and fidelity, abuse and violence, mutual loving care, separation and divorce, loneliness and community.  Jesus sees all the mothers who are struggling to care for their children.

5. Simon helps Jesus carry his cross
    Jesus' story becomes Simon’s story as well. We are all connected with one another.  Globalization can be both a burden and a relief, a freedom and a limit. Jesus and Simon are both victims and helpers. Good and evil play out as their lives are connected.

6. Jesus falls the second time
    The burden that crushes Jesus is unfair - as are the economic and political inequalities of our day - wages, resources, schools, rights, beauty, power, savings, and taxes. Our systems are not always fair.

7. Veronica wipes the faces of Jesus
    This “small” act of charity is a wonderful action of great compassion. It seems to be all that Veronica can do at the moment.  The injustice remains. She cannot stop the suffering and death of Jesus. The compassion of Veronica reminds us to do more, to work for social change, for an end to injustice, and for a new way of living together.

8. Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem
    Women seem to bear the burdens of the world in a special way.  Women feel deeply the pain and injustice of our systems. The experience of women throughout the ages calls us to end the injustice.  It calls us to a new heaven and a new earth, to a new way of being sisters and brothers.

9. Jesus falls the third time
    The burden that crushes Jesus is like the burden of materialism. Every time the world worships things before people, power before justice, and consumption before the spirit, we lose what it means to be human and alive.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments
    This radical loss of everything continues to be felt in the lives of all the poor - those without enough food, clothing, shelter, education, employment, respect, dignity, human rights, and community.

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
    Jesus is a person of active nonviolence, yet here he comes to know violence against his person - the same violence that is seen in all our wars and preparation for war, in all the violence on our streets and in our homes, in the hurt inflicted on people in all our weapons of mass destruction, in ethnic cleansing, in genocide, in all the countless examples of violence.

12. Jesus dies on the cross
    Power and control seem to be dominating values in our world, yet Jesus seems to lose all of these things that the world considers important. Yet at the same time, in Jesus nailed to a cross, we see a person of great freedom, compassionate love and a special awesome power - the power of the suffering God crying out for justice.

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
    Jesus is radically stripped of everything. He is a human person whose rights and dignity and been taken away. In Jesus, we see all the women and men of our world who still seek their basic human rights - rights to the basics like food, water, clothing, shelter, education, political freedom, development and justice.

14. Jesus is placed in the tomb
    Jesus is carefully placed into the earth - an earth that is the divine creation - a planet that we so often abuse as we waste resources, seek profit and convenience before all else, and consume without awareness.

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