Lectionary Reflections:Passion Sunday [c] March 24, 2013

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 18, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflection for Passion Sunday 2013

Passion (Palm) Sunday [c]

March 24, 2013


At the procession with palms: Luke 19:28-40

Isaiah 50:4-7

Philippians 2:6-11

Luke 22:14-23:56


March 22: World Water Day 

March 23: Earth Hour (8:30 p.m. local time) 

March 24: Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s Assassination in 1980

March 24: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 

March 25: Start of Passover at sunset

March 28: Holy Thursday

March 29: Good Friday

March 30: Holy Saturday

March 31: 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.” 

World Synod of Bishops, Justicia in Mundo, #76

“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.”

World Synod of Bishops, Justicia in Mundo, #6

“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.”

Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #25

“Christ crucified and risen, the Wisdom of God, manifests the truth that divine justice and renewing power leavens the world in a way different from the techniques of dominating violence. The victory of shalom is won not by the sword of the warrior god, but by the awesome power of compassionate love, in and through solidarity with those who suffer.”

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p.159

“May Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through his power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.”                                                                Blessed John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #171

Thoughts for your consideration

Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem is about “getting excited” about what God wants to do in the world, right now, today, in our midst. Our entrance into Holy Week is an exciting renewal of our commitment to be involved in the challenges and struggles of our world. God is involved with the pain and suffering of our world. God is involved in our quest for justice and peace. God calls us to a new vision of life.  


The story of the Passion is a story which continues today in our lives and the lives of the people all over the planet – in the lives of the poor, in the lives of refugees and immigrants, in the lives of people in prison, in the lives of people on death row, in the lives of single parents, in the lives of the elderly, in the lives of soldiers and combatants and noncombatants, in those who are victims of racism, in those who are left out of power.


Isaiah refers to 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 ear and heart is opened 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 to become “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war and violence that divides us. 

The whole passion story reminds us that the type of authority that Jesus has 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 to become “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war and violence that divides us.

The Holy Week story is indeed a story of a struggle for communion and solidarity in the midst of great challenges and even injustice and suffering:

* in the Passover Meal that Jesus celebrates

* in the model of service that we see in the washing of feet on Thursday

* in all the courageous actions of Jesus in the midst of opposition

* in the betrayal of Jesus by his closest companions

* in the suffering and death of Jesus on Friday

* in the victory of resurrection and liberation that is revealed on Easter

The struggle for communion and solidarity continues today.

We are called to connect Jesus’ experience of suffering and struggle to our own experience today – an experience that includes life and death, injustice and courage, community and isolation, violence and peace. Our world suffers in the lives of those who are poor or victimized by injustice and violence and natural disaster. In light of all this, we need the spirit of Christ who “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” if we are to be we are to become “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war and violence that divides us.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What is your reaction to remembering the passion of Jesus?  

Are your discouraged? 

Are you discouraged today by things such as war, violence of all sorts, selfishness, failure, injustice, discrimination, poverty, etc.?  

Do you find any hope in the passion story?


You can find the story of Butterfly and the Tree at

Action - Links

Holy Week is a time of prayer and liturgy. It is an occasion to renew our solidarity with those who are poor or afflicted. It can be a time to be of service to others – especially the poor. It can be a time to speak up about injustice. Reflection on the Passion of Christ calls us to reflect on and take action to address the violence that exists in our world today and to work to bring to an end to injustice toward the poor and immigrants, the use of the death penalty, the pursuit of war and preparation for war by nations all over the world, violence toward women, sexual abuse of others especially children and other vulnerable people, the suffering of those who are victims of domestic violence, and many other things that violate the dignity of human beings.

Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and disadvantaged outside the country. To learn more about CRS, visit its website and read about its advocacy efforts.

The Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign continues to provide tools and information for diocesan and community-based organizing, education and advocacy efforts. 

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

The Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty seeks to increase the number of American Catholics who embrace the Church’s death-penalty teaching and, with that teaching as their basis, work for the repeal of all state capital punishment laws. Find out more at CMN's website.

Join an effort to tell world leaders to make ending violence against women a priority today. Violence against women is a serious global problem. In some countries, seven in 10 women will be raped, beaten, mutilated or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. Sign the Petition to End Violence Against Women Worldwide!

“Crazy facts”

The total number of Death Row Inmates in the United States as of October 1, 2012: 3,146


1,325 people have been executed in the United States since 1976. Find this and more information about the death penalty on the Fact Sheet page at 

Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Suffering God, hear our prayers.

For all those who suffering from injustice in our day, we pray….

For those who do not have access to the health care they need, we pray…..

For all those who are victims of torture, oppression, criminal activity, or any kind of violence, we pray….

For the millions of people caught up in our criminal justice system, we pray…

For all those who are on death row anywhere in the world, we pray….

For all those who are victims of domestic violence, we pray…..

For all those who are denied their basic human rights, we pray….

For all our efforts to make real the new, nonviolent, loving vision of Jesus Christ, we pray…


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-collar crime, racial profiling, the criminalization of the poor, and all of 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, 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.

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.

5. Simon helps Jesus carry his cross

Jesus' story becomes Simon's story as well. 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 timeThe burden that crushes Jesus is unfair, as are the economic and political inequalities of our day - wages, resources, schools, rights, power, savings, taxes. Our systems are often unfair.

7. Veronica wipes the faces of Jesus

This small act of charity is a most wonderful action of great compassion. It seems to be all that Veronica can do at the moment, yet the injustice remains. She cannot stop the suffering of Jesus. The compassion of Veronica calls out for social change, for an end to injustice, for a new way of living together.

8. Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem

Women bear the burdens of the world in a special way. They disproportionately struggle under the injustices of our systems. The experience of women throughout the ages calls us to end the injustices. 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, 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 our wars and preparation for war, in the violence on our streets and in our homes, in our weapons of mass destruction, in ethnic cleansing, in genocide, in all these countless examples of violence.

12. Jesus dies on the cross

Power and control are dominant values in our world, yet Jesus loses all of these things that the world considers important. But at the same time, in Jesus nailed to a cross, we see a person of great freedom and 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 have been taken away. In Jesus, we see all the women and men of our world who still seek their basic human rights - the right to food, water, clothing, shelter, education, political freedom, development, justice, etc.

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, as we seek profit before all else, as we consume without awareness, and as we disrespect the awesome beauty that is God’s gift.


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