“Who is this?”
On Palm Sunday the Church reads two passages from the gospels: the first is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 20:1–11), and the second is the entire passion narrative (Matthew 26:14—Mathew 27:66). These passages show some of the various relationships people have with Jesus:
- The crowd that welcomes Jesus as he enters the city believe Jesus is who he claims to be. They spread their cloaks and palms on the road as he approaches. They bless him and exclaim “Hosanna” (save/rescue/savior).
- The people of Jerusalem who ask “who is this?” The people in this group have an obstacle that prevents them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, perhaps through indifference or ignorance.
- The chief priests and Sanhedrin who stir up the crowd to demand that Pilate release a violent rebel (Barabbas) and impose death for Jesus, as they shout “Crucify him! Crucify him!” This group feels threatened, some are self-righteous.
- Those who are willing to give false testimony about Jesus.
- Pilate, who is concerned about himself and maintaining his position/power.
- Roman soldiers—outsiders regarding this religious matter—scourge and mock; violence for its own sake.
- Passersby mock Jesus. They don’t stop, they don’t consider. They want to see a sign that causes their eyes disbelief.
The crowds from the gospel readings are alive and well today. Today’s church bombings in Egypt show that the passion and death of Jesus continues. Those who reject Jesus as Son of God persecute his people. Many today remain indifferent to Jesus, many question who he is, but don’t take the question seriously enough to seek an answer. Politicians ignore Jesus while they try to preserve their own power.
New Testament Reading: Philippians 2:6–11
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–18, 19–20, 23–24
My God, My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
Quote of the Day: It is the same Jesus
This Jesus, who accepts the hosannas of the crowd, knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry: “Crucify him!” He does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos that circulate on the internet. No. He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases… They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike. Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded… Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.
It is not some other Jesus, but the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amid the waving of palm branches. It is the same Jesus who was nailed to the cross and died between two criminals. We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.
—Pope Francis, Palm Sunday homily
“May the Lord convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.” — Pope Francis response to attack on Coptic Churches in Egypt