Lectionary Reflections: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord [b] March 29, 2015

Engaging Faith | Fri, Mar 20, 2015

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

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord [b]

March 29, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord [b]

March 29, 2015


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 28: Earth Hour: 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm 

March 29: Palm Sunday

March 31: Cesar Chavez Day

April 2: Holy Thursday

April 3: Good Friday

April 3: Passover begins at sundown

April 4: Holy Saturday

April 5: Easter Sunday

April 7: World Health Day


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, Centesimus 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


 Jesus teaches us to not be ashamed of touching human misery, of touching his flesh in our brothers and sisters who suffer. 

Pope Francis @Pontifex, April 10, 2014


 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 of Jesus” in a sentimental sort of way and force a certain sense of grief upon ourselves, blaming our personal sin for Jesus’ death.  However, 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, inequality, 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?


The homily of Pope Francis from Palm Sunday 2014 challenges us with a series of questions.  It can found at:

Who are you in the story of the Passion?


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.

The Osborne Association reports:

  • More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives.
  • One in 9 African American children (11.4%), 1 in 28 Hispanic children (3.5%), and 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) in the United States have an incarcerated parent.
  • Nationally, there are more than 120,000 incarcerated mothers and 1.1 million incarcerated fathers who are parents with minor children (ages 0-17).

“On any given day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement keeps at least 34,000 immigrants locked up while they wait for their cases to be heard in immigration court. Many of these detainees are incarcerated not because they are dangerous or likely to skip their court dates, but because ICE must meet an arbitrary quota set by Congress…The quota is written into the federal law that appropriates funding for ICE. Congress requires the agency to ‘maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds’ at any given time. The quota was first enacted in 2007, and it appears yet again in the 2015 appropriations bill currently pending in the House of Representatives…The persistence of this detainee quota is less surprising in light of the fact that for-profit private prisons hold more than half of all immigration detainees.”



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.

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

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 or

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.”


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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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