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Palm Sunday

Today’s Sunday is known as ‘Palm Sunday’ or ‘Passion Sunday.’ It is called ‘Palm Sunday’ because during Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem people welcomed him with palms in their hands. It is also called ‘Passion Sunday’ because today’s Gospel presents the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ from Matthew (Year A of the Sunday Liturgy Cycle), Mark (Year B) or Luke (Year C).

Palm Sunday

By Fr. Robert D’Souza
Today’s Sunday is known as ‘Palm Sunday’ or ‘Passion Sunday.’ It is called ‘Palm Sunday’ because during Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem people welcomed him with palms in their hands. It is also called ‘Passion Sunday’ because today’s Gospel presents the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ from Matthew (Year A of the Sunday Liturgy Cycle), Mark (Year B) or Luke (Year C).

Fr. Raymond Brown in his voluminous book The Death of the Messiah divides the passion of Jesus into four categories:

a) Agony becomes bearable if accepted with an appropriate inner disposition: Jesus approaches his agony with the spirit of prayer. This prayer is Father-centred. Jesus also invites his disciples to pray so that they may not enter into temptation. But the disciples finally fell into temptation (of fleeing away from the garden when Jesus needed them the most) because they did not pray long enough and deep enough.

b) Passion becomes part of God’s will with the awareness of one’s divine nature: The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy which actually was a reality in Jesus’ case (he was the son of God and he was the living temple). Jesus does not lose sight of his divine nature in the midst of crisis.

c) Condemnation becomes acceptable once one’s conscience is clear: During his trial before the political authority Jesus was accused of treason (declaring himself as king or instigating people not to pay tax to Caesar etc.). Pilate condemned him to death but Jesus was composed as his conscience was clear. 

d) Suffering takes on new meaning when it is other-oriented: During his suffering on the cross Jesus does not lose sight of his heavenly Father nor of the people for whom he was dying. What happens to me during suffering in my life?

(A prolific writer Fr. Dr. Robert Baptist D’souza has been a perspicacious translator for years including the translation of the voluminous Catechism of the Catholic Church. He translated the 16 sticker books of the Living in Faith to Marathi and is busy translating the Bible into the same language. He belongs to the diocese of Vasai and is the director of the pastoral centre.)

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