Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the climax of Jesus’s mission. Today we see him enter Jerusalem on a donkey, as the cheering crowd joyfully proclaims ‘Hosanna’, waving palm branches.
As the story of the Passion unfolds in the Gospel, the mood soon changes. Viewing Jesus as a threat to their religious authority, the chief priests plot to bring about his end. The crowd now turns on Jesus, shouting ‘Crucify him’. Then we accompany Jesus in his suffering to his last breath, hearing those desolate words, ‘My God, my God why have you deserted me?’
We respond with these same words to the Psalm, which describes the humiliation that Jesus will suffer in order to save us. In the last verse, however, the mood changes from dejection to praise and glory.
Though the First Reading also touches on suffering, the servant takes strength from God’s presence with him, even in the worst circumstances.
Paul urges the Philippians to be more Christ-like in their behaviour. Jesus came amongst us in humility as a servant, showing his great unconditional love for us by dying on the cross. (Second Reading)
As we accompany Jesus through Holy Week, no matter what trials we may be facing, let’s pray for confidence in God’s presence, that we may be strengthened by it and filled with hope as we look forward to Easter.