Scripture Readings: Matthew 21.1-11; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-22; Matthew 26.14—27.66 or 27.11-54
“Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ – Matthew 27.46
It’s Holy Week for Christians. Palm Sunday remembers how enthusiastically people welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem, where he begins to teach in the temple courts. Christians today remember processions with palms outside our churches, even around the block on this Sunday. But we remember also holding our palms and standing for the longest gospel reading of the year—Jesus’ passion.
In this year of the quarantine we cannot gather, remember, and celebrate Jesus’ last supper with his friends on Holy Thursday or pray for the world on Good Friday as we remember Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, death, and burial. We will not be able to hunker down together in darkness, each holding candles, to remember our holy history from the creation of the heavens and the Earth through Jesus’ resurrection (Holy Saturday).
Instead it is a time to hunker down at home with family or with those who are home to us, find a New Testament and look up the readings for these most memorable feast days. Or, go to goodgroundress.com and look up Sunday by Sunday for Palm/Passion Sunday. Read the gospels especially (see citations above) and recall memories of these special days—the songs, the symbols, the meanings family and others have expressed through the years. Be creative. Find last year’s palms. What symbols of the Holy Week events do you keep in your home or apartment or pocket?
The events of Jesus’ passion test and manifest his love for God, for the world, for his friends, and for the community that still gathers in his name. Jesus endures not only the pain and shame of crucifixion but one friend’s betrayal, another’s denial, and God’s seeming abandonment. Those who witness the full outpouring of Jesus’ love in his life and in his death come to share his commitment to self-giving. Jesus’ self-giving death and life-giving resurrection reveal love as the creative power at the heart of all that is.
What in your life has demanded more than you thought you had to give? What has Jesus’ passion meant to you? When have you found Jesus with you in times of betrayal or suffering or seeming abandonment?