Suggestions from Mgr. Jaume González-Agàpito for prayer and individual preparation
Year B, Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024
Mk 11, 1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Phil 2,6-11; Mk 14, 1 – 15, 47

  1. Today’s celebration has its origins in the Jerusalem Church. The community of Jerusalem repeated, from the fourth century, the events of Christ’s life in the very places where they happened. In early and medieval Rome, the statio was today in St. John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral: it was an important celebration.
  2. It currently has three celebratory areas: a minor church or a suitable place, outside the sacred enclosure, the procession and the main church. The thematic line bifurcates: the triumph of the Anointed (Messiah) and Lord and the beginning of his Passion.
    • The triumphal entry of the Messiah, martyr and victor, into the holy city.
  3. The characters of the drama are: Jesus (represented by the celebrant), the disciples (they are the faithful of today) and the children (also currently protagonists of the event).
  4. The first part of the sacred action is the staging of Psalm 117: “Exalt the Lord, for he is good: his love endures forever!”; “Order the procession, with the bouquets, to the edges of the altar”; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
  5. As Saint Andrew of Crete warned us during the Night Service, today we lay not olive and palm branches or clothes, but our lives and our souls at the feet of the Lord. With this gesture we open (prayer of blessing) the celebrations of the holy days, accompanying the Messiah who goes, freely, to his martyrdom.
    • The Servant of Yahweh comforter of the afflicted
  6. The Old Testament reading (Is 50:4-7) is the gateway to the passion of the incarnate Word (today is Passion Sunday): “Comfort, comfort my people […] The Lord has given me a beginner’s language to know how to say a word of comfort to the downtrodden”.
  7. Consolation that entails the sacrifice and abdication (kenesis) of the Servant (note the ambiguity, in Greek, of the word: servant-son).
    • The ‘kénosis’ that raises humanity
  8. The ultimate explanation of God’s way of proceeding and saving (“economy”) is given by the hymn of the apostolic reading, very primitive in the Christian tradition. (Phil 2, 6-11).
  9. It is the same ‘philosophy’ of the Magnificat of Mary: God uses the humbled poor to work his miracles. His Son was no exception. It was, rather, the great paradigm of this puzzling divine ‘policy’: From a divine pre-existence, Christ does not cling to his condition, in his human existence, rather lowers himself to to the extreme of assuming a shameful death for the world.
    • The Incarnation reaches its goal with the assumption, by Christ, of a glorious title: Lord.
  10. History of the immolation of the immaculate Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.
  11. The reading of the Passion according to Saint Mark characterizes today’s Sunday celebration. I listen to him relaxed, attentive and composed. Mark is the oldest written testimony we have of the account of Christ’s passion.
  12. A drama that began in Bethany in a meal (Mk 14, 1-9), which continues in another meal with the effective sign of the New and Eternal Testament, which acquires a great tension in Gethsemane and the air of a tragedy in the process of Jesus, concludes with his death on the cross.
    The story has the flavor of what is authentic, of what has been preserved, with great love, in the memory of the Christian community.
    • Protagonism of the Cross
  13. In some places, it is solemnly exposed, and with it the blessing is given at the end of the Mass and the Office, the “Lignum Crucis”: a splinter of the Cross of Christ.
    With this we want to ritualize and visualize, in this Time of Passion, the only redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, made on the Holy Cross and of which all our worship, especially and eminently the Eucharist, is the actualization.
    It is not a talisman, but a witness to the reality, not mythological, of Christ’s sacrifice.
  14. The personal and private reading of the evangelical accounts of the Passion of Christ is highly recommended in this holy time that we begin today. Also attendance at the celebrations of the Holy Triduum: Divine Office, Lord’s Supper and Easter Vigil.

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