Palm Sunday | Year B

Posted on March 22, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

668 words

In the book Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag, concludes that seeing news articles and images of war and suffering is necessary so we know what is happening, but it puts us in a position as either “spectator” or “coward,” and that both positions are uncomfortable.1

In Holy Week, we are not spectators, we are invited to enter-in to share in the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the sacred liturgies.

There is a mystery that had been hidden from the ages but has now been revealed. That mystery, St. Paul says, is “Christ in you—the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

The mystery of Christ is in you! We share in Christ’s glory because he is in us, by grace.

Peter’s example warns us of failed attempts to share in this mystical communion with Christ.

One- He does not persevere in prayer, he falls asleep in the garden. The most primitive form of the passion narrative was included in the Mass from the very beginning, so that by receiving Holy Communion, Christ is in you. Like Peter, we can say, “I don’t have time. I need my rest, and other things take precedence.”  

Secondly–Peter relies on natural strength, he strikes with the sword.

“Deliver us, Jesus, from the rebellion against childlike dependency on You.”

(Litany of Trust,

The third stage of Peter’s fall is that he begins to follow Jesus at a distance.

“Jesus, I trust in You. That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You.”

Fourth–Peter seeks the comfort of fitting in with the world, but the maid saw Peter and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” Peter, a big talker, spoke with a Galilean accent, revealing him. But he denied knowing Jesus Christ.

Afraid to provoke the mighty and those affiliated with politically correct but immoral views or laws or to be among those saying with inspired piety, “how can we withhold our praise when God is clearly acting in our midst?” 2

“Don’t let anyone steal your Hosanna!”

Sharing in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection does not require much words. Pilate questioned, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus said to him in reply, “You say so.” The people are using a Messianic title for Jesus which is true, but which they don’t understand, so Jesus avoids giving a simplistic yes or no answer. Then, Mark 15:5 says that Jesus gave him “no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.” Justin Martyr, writing in the second century, gives us advice: “Jesus knew when to speak and when to be silent.”

St. Thomas Aquinas says that the Lord permitted Peter to fall so shamefully when he had such zeal for the Lord was because Peter was about to become the head of the Church and so that he might have compassion on the weaknesses of sinners, the Lord permitted Peter to experience himself great weakness so that by awareness of his own fall he might soften his too harsh judgment on others.

Sharing in the mystery of Christ, as Joseph Ratzinger points out, involves the choice of Jesus or Barabbas.

Barabbas too was a messianic figure that represented earthly glory by the violence of rebellion whom Pilate chose in order to satisfy the crowd versus the glory of Christ the True God, whose kingdom is not of this world.3

At the end of the story, only one trust remains: the trust of the one who handed over himself—literally and sacramentally- for us. His trust is in the one who never fails, whose power endures and embraces even beyond the grave. In this God we trust.4

1.    Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003, p 42

2.    Brian Maas, Liturgy of the Psalms, The Christian Century, Apr 2023

3.    Michał Łuczewski, Slavic Political Theology, Church Life Journal, Univer. of Notre Dame, 02/24/2023

4.    BM, Liturgy of the Psalms, The Christian Century, Apr, 2023