· Luke 19:28-40 (Palm Liturgy)
· Isaiah 50:4-9a (Passion Liturgy)
· or Luke 23:1-49
The title of this Sunday reveals the conflicting themes that we attempt to address on one morning: The festive entry of Jesus into Jerusalem set alongside the suffering and rejection of Good Friday. Perhaps the Prayer Book editors wanted to ensure that the people coming for Palm Sunday would not be able to get to Easter resurrection without taking into account the cross of Good Friday.
The Entry to Jerusalem this year is told by Luke 19:28-40. Given the huge influx of visitors to the city for Passover, Jerusalem would have been overflowing. By now many have heard of Jesus for the many works of healing and other signs of God’s power shown by him. Many would have wanted to see such a figure if they could. It is not hard to imagine how the Jewish and Roman authorities feared a riot.
Isaiah 50 describes a prophet who has stood firm in declaring the word of God to the people, even though it has caused rejection and shame to be heaped on him. He relies on the Lord to vindicate and uphold him.
Luke’s Passion Narrative: We are invited this year to allow Luke to tell us the story of how our Lord was betrayed, suffered, and died on the cross. The full narrative begins with the Lord’s Supper (Thursday evening) and carries through to the Sabbath (Friday-Saturday).
When Paul wants to teach the Philippian Church about their attitude and behavior as brothers and sisters in Christ, he seems to have reached back to an earlier, hymn like summary of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Christ empties himself of his divinity, takes our humanity in order to be a servant, and humbles himself to die on a cross. Then exalted by God, Christ is worthy of our worship – and imitation: “Have THIS mind among yourselves…”
Comment: The Prayer Book may have overloaded this one day with more than we can absorb! Perhaps the best we can do is allow it to wash over us, and wait to see how the Holy Spirit will move to speak through it all. But if anyone can sum it up concisely, it was whoever composed the “hymn” used by Paul. We worship and adore the Christ who emptied himself that he might love, serve, and heal us. Shall we not renew our determination to offer ourselves to be likewise emptied in God’s service to the people around us? David S. Robinson, RectorSaint Matthew’s Episcopal ChurchMaple Glen, PA 19002