Reflections for Sunday, April 13, 2014 (Palm Sunday)
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14–27:66)
The Victory of the Cross
From now on you will see “the of Man seated at the right hand of the Power” and “coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64)
From a sermon by St. Leo the Great:
“No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. The sacred blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). The age-old night of sin has given way to the true light, and the Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise. All who have been reborn have the way open before them to return to their native land… .
“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity. In taking our human nature while remaining God, he left no member of the human race without a share in his mercy. Who does not share a common nature with Christ, if he has welcomed Christ who took our nature and is reborn in the Spirit through whom Christ was conceived?
“Who cannot recognize in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognize that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave? It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin.
“The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled: ‘Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven’ (Matthew 10:32).”
“All praise and glory to you, Lord Jesus, for redeeming us! I want to be with you in heaven forever!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
- The first reading from Isaiah is a powerful prophecy on Jesus’ faithfulness, obedience, and his passion. In what way is it also a testimony to his total trust in the Father’s love and call for his life? When you are in the midst of difficult circumstances, or suffering, do you believe that, “The Lord God is my help, therefore, I am not disgraced?” Are you able to say, “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 54:7)? Share a time when this was true and when it was a struggle for you.
- The responsorial psalm is also a powerful prophetic word on Jesus’ suffering, his death on the Cross, and his resurrection. It also contains Jesus’ words from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why do you think Jesus cried out these words from the Cross? Was there ever a time when you felt this way as well? Why?
- The second reading provides a wonderful witness to Jesus’ humility in that he “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” and “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death.” If humility is lifting others above yourself, and pride is lifting yourself above others, how do you rate yourself on these characteristics? What steps can you take to reflect more and more the humility of Jesus?
- The Gospel reading provides us with a narrative of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross. It is so easy to take for granted this familiar story, or passively listen as the Gospel is read at Mass. What steps can you take to prevent this from happening?
- The meditation, which comes from a sermon by St. Leo the Great, begins with these words: “No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.” How would you answer, if someone were to ask you: “What is the victory of the cross?” How would you describe this “victory” in your own life?
- During Holy week, what steps can you take to spend additional time with Jesus, “watching,” praying with him, and meditating on his journey to the cross?
- Take some time now to pray and thank the Lord for the victory of the Cross and for redeeming you and rescuing you from the power of sin and death. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.