On Palm Sunday, we patiently await to receive our palms that we will take home, and symbolically place in a vase as reminder of our Lenten journey.
After the procession, we will prepare ourselves to listen with open hearts and mind to the Gospel account of the Passion (from the Latin passio, which means “suffering”) of Jesus, from this last meal with his disciples to this death and burial. The effect of the long reading is that we are with Jesus through it all. Of course, each of the gospels tells us the story of Jesus’ suffering and death, and as we would expect, there are many similarities among the four accounts. This consistency tells us that these stories were well-preserved in the early Christian community. They were considered central, core truth. They were told and retold, preserved and passed on.
But of course, there are differences among the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ Passion,as well. Most scholars think that Mark wrote his gospel first and both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a reliable guide, working with Mark’s structure and stories and adding their own traditions and sources. Matthew’s account of Jesus’s suffering and death closely follows Mark’s. This account give use a clear picture of the humanity of Jesus – his vulnerability, his dread at the death he saw coming, his agony on the cross. A wonderful book to use to see the similarities of the Gospels is a book titled “Synopsis of the Four Gospels.”
The final words of Jesus on the cross are a powerful example of how Mark and Matthew help us understand the reality of Jesus’ humanity. In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ final words are “It is finished” (John 19:30), a clear declaration that Jesus has done what he intended to do, and fully in control of himself, he is surrendering his life. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ final words are “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), another controlled and purposeful given over of himself.
But in Mark and Matthew, Jesus’ last words are the excruciating words of pain and abandonment: “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34: Matthew 27:46). Although it has rightly been pointed out by scholars that these are the first words of Psalm 22, a psalm that ends in hopeful triumph, this does not diminish the fact that Jesus chose these words to express what he was feeling in those moments. Although Jesus never stopped having faith in his Father, he felt abandoned in the enormous suffering of that moment. Mark and Matthew have preserved this experience and it’s very natural human emotions. There is a powerful Gospel song titled “I Give Myself Away.” As we prepare to enter into the Triduum, this would be a good time to reflect back over your Lenten journey, to see where you have given yourself away to serve others, and to be still with God. At the Easter Vigil Mr. Anthony Sierengowski, an active member here at Nativity will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Anthony has a wonderful spirit of joy and compassion. It has been a humbling experience to journey with him at this point and time in his life. His sponsor is Mr. Thomas Davis; please continue to pray for Tom’s speedy recovery.
Amazing Peace, Joni S., Director of Religious Education