Readings and Reflection for Sunday April 10, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

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FIRST READING
“I hid not my face from shame, and I know I shall not be put to shame.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 50:4-7)

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM  Ps 22:8-9.17-18a.19-20.23-24 (R. 2a)
R/. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me;
they curl their lips, they toss their heads:
“He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him, for in him he delights.” R/.

For dogs have surrounded me;
a band of the wicked besets me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet;
I can count every one of my bones. R/.

R/. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them,
they cast lots for my robe.
But you, O Lord, do not stay afar off;
my strength, make haste to help me! R/.

I will tell of your name to my kin,
and praise you in the midst of the assembly;
“You who fear the Lord, give him praise;
all descendants of Jacob, give him glory;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel.” R/.

SECOND READING    
“He humbled himself, and God has highly exalted him”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6-11)

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 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.

The word of the Lord

Gospel Acclamation: Philippians 2:8b-9
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Christ became obedient for us unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him: and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
Passion Narrative of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (Luke 22:14-23:56)

N –  Narrator, 

C –  Christ.

S –  Speakers other than Christ.

N. WHEN THE HOUR CAME, JESUS SAT AT TABLE, AND THE APOSTLES WITH HIM. AND HE SAID TO THEM

C.“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

N. AND HE TOOK A CHALICE, AND WHEN HE HAD GIVEN THANKS HE SAID,

C. “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

N. AND HE TOOK BREAD, AND WHEN HE HAD GIVEN THANKS HE BROKE IT AND GAVE IT TO THEM, SAYING,

C. “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

N.   AND LIKEWISE THE CHALICE AFTER SUPPER, SAYING,

C. “This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

N. AND THEY BEGAN TO QUESTION ONE ANOTHER, WHICH OF THEM IT WAS THAT WOULD DO THIS. A DISPUTE ALSO AROSE AMONG THEM, WHICH OF THEM WAS TO BE REGARDED AS THE GREATEST. AND HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.
“You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

N.  AND HE SAID TO HIM,

S.   “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

N.   HE SAID,

C. “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”

N.   AND HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

N.   THEY SAID,

S.   “Nothing.”

N.  HE SAID TO THEM,

 C. “But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfilment.”

N. AND THEY SAID,

S. “Look, Lord, here are two swords.”

N. AND HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “It is enough.”

N. AND HE CAME OUT, AND WENT, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM, TO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES; AND THE DISCIPLES FOLLOWED HIM. AND WHEN HE CAME TO THE PLACE HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

N. AND HE WITHDREW FROM THEM ABOUT A STONE’S THROW, AND KNELT DOWN AND PRAYED,

C. “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.”

N. AND THERE APPEARED TO HIM AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, STRENGTHENING HIM. AND BEING IN AN AGONY HE PRAYED MORE EARNESTLY; AND HIS SWEAT BECAME LIKE GREAT DROPS OF BLOOD FALLING DOWN UPON THE GROUND. AND WHEN HE ROSE FROM PRAYER, HE CAME TO THE DISCIPLES AND FOUND THEM SLEEPING FOR SORROW, AND HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

N. WHILE HE WAS STILL SPEAKING, THERE CAME A CROWD, AND THE MAN CALLED JUDAS, ONE OF THE TWELVE, WAS LEADING THEM. HE DREW NEAR TO JESUS TO KISS HIM; BUT JESUS SAID TO HIM,

C. “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?”

N. AND WHEN THOSE WHO WERE ABOUT HIM SAW WHAT WOULD FOLLOW, THEY SAID,

S. “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”

N. AND ONE OF THEM STRUCK THE SLAVE OF THE HIGH PRIEST AND CUT OFF HIS RIGHT EAR. BUT JESUS SAID,

C. “No more of this!”

N. AND HE TOUCHED HIS EAR AND HEALED HIM. THEN JESUS SAID TO THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND CAPTAINS OF THE TEMPLE AND ELDERS, WHO HAD COME OUT AGAINST HIM,

C. “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

N. THEN THEY SEIZED HIM AND LED HIM AWAY, BRINGING HIM INTO THE HIGH PRIEST’S HOUSE. PETER FOLLOWED AT A DISTANCE; AND WHEN THEY HAD KINDLED A FIRE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COURTYARD AND SAT DOWN TOGETHER, PETER SAT AMONG THEM. THEN A MAID, SEEING HIM AS HE SAT IN THE LIGHT AND GAZING AT HIM, SAID,

S.  “This man also was with him.”

N.  BUT HE DENIED IT, SAYING,

S.  “Woman, I do not know him.”

N.  AND A LITTLE LATER SOME ONE ELSE SAW HIM AND SAID,

S.  “You also are one of them.”

N.  BUT PETER SAID,

S.  “Man, I am not.”

N. AND AFTER AN INTERVAL OF ABOUT AN HOUR STILL ANOTHER INSISTED, SAYING,

S. “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.”

N. BUT PETER SAID,

S. “Man, I do not know what you are saying.”

N. AND IMMEDIATELY, WHILE HE WAS STILL SPEAKING, THE COCK CROWED. AND THE LORD TURNED AND LOOKED AT PETER. AND PETER REMEMBERED THE WORD OF THE LORD, HOW HE HAD SAID TO HIM, “BEFORE THE COCK CROWS TODAY, YOU WILL DENY ME THREE TIMES.” AND HE WENT OUT AND WEPT BITTERLY. NOW THE MEN WHO WERE HOLDING JESUS MOCKED HIM AND BEAT HIM; THEY ALSO BLINDFOLDED HIM AND ASKED HIM,

S. “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”

N. AND THEY SPOKE MANY OTHER WORDS AGAINST HIM, REVILING HIM. WHEN THE DAY CAME, THE ASSEMBLY OF THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE GATHERED TOGETHER, BOTH CHIEF PRIESTS AND SCRIBES; AND THEY LED HIM AWAY TO THEIR COUNCIL, AND THEY SAID,

S.    “If you are Christ, tell us.”

N.   BUT HE SAID TO THEM,

C. “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

N. AND THEY ALL SAID,

S. “Are you the Son of God, then?”

N. AND HE SAID TO THEM, “YOU SAY THAT I AM.”

N. And they said,

S. “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

N. THEN THE WHOLE COMPANY OF THEM AROSE, AND BROUGHT HIM BEFORE PILATE. AND THEY BEGAN TO ACCUSE HIM, SAYING,

S. “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a King.”

N. AND PILATE ASKED HIM,

S. “Are you the King of the Jews?’

N. AND HE ANSWERED HIM,

C. “You have said so”

N. AND PILATE SAID TO THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE MULTITUDES,

S. “I find no crime in this man,”

N. BUT THEY WERE URGENT SAYING,

S. “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

N. WHEN PILATE HEARD THIS, HE ASKED WHETHER THE MAN WAS A GALILEAN. AND WHEN HE LEARNT THAT HE BELONGED TO HEROD’S JURISDICTION, HE SENT HIM OVER TO HEROD, WHO WAS HIMSELF IN JERUSALEM AT THAT TIME. WHEN HEROD SAW JESUS, HE WAS VERY GLAD, FOR HE HAD LONG DESIRED TO SEE HIM, BECAUSE HE HAD HEARD ABOUT HIM, AND HE WAS HOPING TO SEE SOME SIGN DONE BY HIM. SO HE QUESTIONED HIM AT SOME LENGTH; BUT HE MADE NO ANSWER. THE CHIEF PRIEST AND THE SCRIBES TREATED HIM WITH CONTEMPT AND MOCKED HIM; THEN, CLOTHING HIM IN GORGEOUS APPAREL, HE SENT HIM BACK TO PILATE. AND HEROD AND PILATE BECAME FRIENDS WITH EACH OTHER THAT VERY DAY, FOR BEFORE THIS THEY HAVE BEEN AT ENMITY WITH EACH OTHER. PILATE THEN CALLED TOGETHER THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE RULERS AND THE PEOPLE, AND SAID TO THEM,

S. “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people and after “examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.”

N. BUT THEY ALL CRIED OUT TOGETHER,

S. “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”

N. A MAN WHO HAD BEEN THROWN INTO PRISON FOR AN INSURRECTION STARTED IN THE CITY, AND FOR MURDER.  PILATE ADDRESSED THEM ONCE MORE, DESIRING TO RELEASE JESUS; BUT THEY SHOUTED OUT.

S. “Crucify, crucify him!”

N. A THIRD TIME HE SAID TO THEM,

S. “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.”

N. But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will. And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said,

C. “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed! ’Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

N. TWO OTHERS ALSO, WHO WERE CRIMINALS, WERE LED AWAY TO BE PUT TO DEATH WITH HIM. AND WHEN THEY CAME TO THE PLACE WHICH IS CALLED THE SKULL, THERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM, AND THE CRIMINALS, ONE ON THE RIGHT AND ONE ON THE LEFT. AND JESUS SAID,

C. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

N. AND THEY CAST LOTS TO DIVIDE HIS GARMENTS. AND THE PEOPLE STOOD BY, WATCHING; BUT THE RULERS SCOFFED AT HIM, SAYING,

S. “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

N. THE SOLDIERS ALSO MOCKED HIM, COMING UP AND OFFERING HIM VINEGAR, AND SAYING,

S. “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

N. THERE WAS ALSO AN INSCRIPTION OVER HIM, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” ONE OF THE CRIMINALS WHO WERE HANGED RAILED AT HIM, SAYING,

S.  “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

N.   BUT THE OTHER REBUKED HIM, SAYING,

S. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

N. AND HE SAID,

S. “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.”

N.   AND HE SAID TO HIM,

C. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

N. It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said,

C. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

N. AND HAVING SAID THIS HE BREATHED HIS LAST

All kneel and pause for a moment.

N.  NOW WHEN THE CENTURION SAW WHAT HAD TAKEN PLACE, HE PRAISED GOD, AND SAID,

S.  “Certainly this man was innocent!”

N. And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.

Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

TODAY’S REFLECTION
The Passion Narrative teaches us a lot about ourselves. The bitter truth is humanity has not changed at all since the time of Jesus. We are still ruled by money, we still betray one another, we are still stingy, we do not pray well, and we often act to please the crowd, in short we are often crowd people, we do things not because it is right but because everyone is doing it. 

If Jesus were to come back again as man, we would or might still kill him again.  When we try to place ourselves in the characters of today’s Passion Narrative, we cannot but see how real the story becomes and how it contains so many lessons for us even today.

Our people say that it is the rat inside the house that goes to inform other rats outside that there is food in the house. The enemy outside cannot succeed without the permission or cooperation of the enemy inside. Again, in pidgin, there is the saying: “NA WHO KNOW MAN, NAI DEY KILL AM.” All these boils down to the person of Judas Iscariot. But wait, before you begin to judge him, why not ask: “Haven’t I betrayed my close friends in the past?” “Don’t I sit down to gossip about people very close to me using the secrets I know about them against them?”

Our people also say: “Money talks, bullshit walks.” What was Judas’ motivation for selling Jesus? Money. The love of money is no doubt the root of all evils. 1st Timothy 6:10. Money by itself is good but the love of money is very bad. The greatest commandment and indeed the summary of all the commandments is to Love God and our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).  Our love for money should never be greater than our love for God and neighbour otherwise we would do worse than Judas Iscariot. Always remember that on the day of your birth, you brought nothing to this world and the day you die, you would take nothing with you. Let this thought never leave your heart. All your efforts to grab, accumulate and possess which sometimes lead you to fight others, keep malice, insult or keep enemies are useless because in the end, you will have to watch and see how every kobo you have will go away. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. How much of that money did he spend?

Jesus gave us his very body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. This was the height of his generosity. Why am I so stingy with things that I didn’t even bring to this world in the first place? If after reading today’s Passion Narrative, I still find it difficult to give and share with the poor, it means something is wrong with me. Jesus not only gave, he taught us how to live. Because he gave up himself, he would have every ground to judge us at the end of our lives for refusing to give. “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Matthew 25:41-43.

Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray but instead, they started sleeping. How deep and serious is my prayer life? Am I able to watch for one hour with Jesus every day? By the way see how Jesus prayed: “Abba Father … remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Mark 14:36. Doesn’t this teach me how to pray? Why do I try to command God in my prayer? Wouldn’t it be nice if I add this clause whenever I make a request of God; to do not as I will but as He wills instead?
When our prayer life is weak, we cannot withstand the enemy. Like the disciples who ran away at the arrest of Jesus, we flee from the devil out of fear. We become so scared that we even deny Jesus like Peter who denied Jesus after boasting.

Pilate knew Jesus was innocent “for he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” Mark 15:10. But just like you and me, he was more afraid of the crowd than the truth. He acted against his conscience to please the crowd and to secure his job. If I was Pilate, what would I have done differently?

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