Palm Sunday of Lent Cycle C

Our readings for this Sunday, Palm Sunday are here.

Again, these are my notes and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homily from the

  • Noon Mass on April 14, 2019.  


The poem Fr Dennis references is:

Interestingly, Fr Dennis used this poem with the Palm Sunday readings of 2019 (Cycle C) and Ascension on May 28, 2017 (Cycle A).  He had it at the ready on the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 4, 2018, Cycle B), but chose not to use it.  He might find multiple poems during the week and was adaptive to the congregation at a particular Mass gathering, whether they seemed of a certain disposition that would make one poem or another a better or lesser fit.

  • Palm Sunday has a bit of that Ascension feeling in the opening of the gospel, called the Gospel Procession.  This is the passage that marks Palm Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  It certainly can feel triumphal (try to stop the singing, “the stones will cry out!”), but as we know …
  • The story and the liturgical readings of Palm Sunday arc quickly to the Passion, which is what is read after Isaiah’s suffering servant and other readings fitting to the Passion, not the joyful tenor of the entry to Jerusalem.
  • When we remain present to these passages, it’s hard not to think “What happened?!?” How could all this change so quickly, so horribly?  The behavior of human mobs is not the mystery in these cases, but our questions about God’s presence.
  • We don’t understand the mystery of our belief, how it comes to aid us in the times of life that seem good or bad.  The palm procession seems joyful but it is the introduction to the suffering of the Passion.  The Passion is a horror story that reveals the Love of God who creates a joyful Resurrection out of it.  God is God. God is Light, and the darkness shall not overcome it. 
  • Thomas Lux’ poem, Ode to the Joyful Ones, captures this sense of when we know — “Because you don’t have to tell them to walk toward the light.”  When we are filled with God’s Love or someone around us is, Life and Light are shared freely because that is the nature of God’s Love.
  • How do we sustain our joyful ones — the joyful one inside each of us, and those around us?  We do so by relying on Jesus to provide what we need in our daily lives, by being vulnerable with him.

Naomi Shahib Nye’s poem, Kindness, captures the swing of Palm Sunday — of how these starts and finishes amidst gaping losses can be all topsy-turvy unless you are centered in God’s Love, which bears a striking resembling to kindness quite often.

Neither here nor there, I thoroughly enjoyed this quote of Maya Angelou’s from the SALT lectionary, in honor of her April 4 birthday: 

Angelou didn’t call herself a Christian — not exactly. In an interview on the occasion of being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she put it this way:

“I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I think, ‘Already? You already got it?’ I’m working at it, which means that I try to be as kind and fair and generous and respectful and courteous to every human being.”

The SALT Lent with Van Gogh booklet went with Starry Sky, focusing on the entry to Jerusalem, and there is a richness there with the context of the painting (created during his year stay in the mental health house).  However, in my past two retreats at Manresa (shameless plug for the Individually Directed Retreat — Ignatian, silent), my director and retreat brought out Sieger Koder’s work in the foot washing and bread breaking, our two forms of the Institution of the Eucharist in the four gospels.

The gospels are worth a read specifically to confirm this:  Jesus feeds Judas and Peter and washes the feet of both of them.  He didn’t leave anyone out, perhaps not despite knowing what they would do … but all the more because of what they would do.

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