Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was an act of superb bravado. He was coming onto center stage. This was high noon. There was a price on His head. He was an outlaw wanted dead or alive. Our Discussion Questions for April 1, 2012, Palm Sunday, will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Welcome to Holy Week. This Sunday we receive a palm branch - in memory of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio notes that when our Lord entered Jerusalem, they hailed him with palms. Then, in terrible contrast, we will hear about the betrayal of Jesus, his humiliation by public scourging and then...the cross. We read about both events on a Sunday with two names (Palm and Passion) but featuring the same Lord and the same fickle crowd. A day of both joy and sorrow.

We would be so blessed to roam the streeets of Jerusalem today during Holy Week and allow the city to transport us back in time to the days when these events were transpiring. Paul Dion, STL did just that in 2008. And he shares with us his journey of faith as one who walked on the very streets Jesus walked during Holy Week some 2000 years ago.

Preparing to Enter Jerusalem

We prepare now with Christ to enter the holiest of weeks in which we celebrate all of the events leading up to his passion, death and burial. And in doing so, Father Cusick tells us, we recall how by His death He has transformed our death from a curse into the door of eternal life.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS notes that prior to entering Jerusalem, it seems Jesus Himself had also made some private arrangements without the knowledge of his disciples. The good father describes how he was struck by the similarity between the account of getting the donkey for the ride into Jerusalem, that we have at the beginning of the mass, with the account of the preparations made for the Passover feast. In both cases it seems as though these events were pre-planned by our Lord.

His Triumphant Entry

This Sunday is called “Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion.” Notice, there are two halves to it, palms and passion. They stand in jarring contrast to each other. And the parade begins. Fr. James Gilhooley observes that this would be the only demonstration where Jesus would positively encourage people to salute Him as King. All other times He would not hear of it.

Crowds along the way greeted Jesus as their royal hero. They smoothed their coats on the roadway, then covered them with palm branches cut from the fields. This was in order to soften the pathway for the kingly one, and to keep the dirt off of him. They cried out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This Sunday during the Mass, the people will also be holding palms during the ritual procession, just as did those who lined the road long ago. Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out to us that this opening part of this Mass is more than just an historical re-enactment, it is a proclamation of Jesus precisely as king. It is the first half of the jarring contrast.

But Jesus looks beyond the joyous crowd. He can look into our hearts instead. The people who are now paying the highest honor to him will be the same people who will condemn him in a few hours. Fr. Jboy Gonzales, SJ explains to us that Jesus knows something beyond our comprehension.

On the Cross

Crucifixion was devised and designed by the Romans as capital punishment, to put a criminal to death. It was designed to inflict optimal physical pain. But crucifixion was designed with still another even more callous intent. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it was designed to humiliate the person.

Father Raniero Cantalamessa reminds us that we are all responsible for Jesus' death. On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment - separation from God. But in the end, Fr. Phil Bloom points out, the Son of God gave a loud cry - a shout of victory.

Palm Sunday gives us the big picture. And that, Therese Borchard says, is to remind us that only God is constant, nothing else. Only the One who created you is able to love you perfectly and unconditionally. And so, Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. exhorts us to vow to live under no power but the sign of the cross---- the sign of the Trinity, the sign of hope in the face of death. Let us go with Him, all the way to glory, for we are bound with Christ in God, in suffering and death and in glory.

The Holiest of Weeks

After spending the last few weeks in the desert of Lent, suddenly we find ourselves in an oasis, clutching long leaves of palms. And then, remember what we are doing, and why. Because as Deacon Greg Kendra points out, of all the calendars in all of human history, this is the seven days that shook the world. This is the week that we are called to draw near the cross, to learn its wisdom and to understand the power of forgiveness and mercy that is the sign of our salvation and freedom.

At the heart of our faith is the Paschal Mystery: the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. All of salvation history leads up to and goes forth from these saving events. Dr. Isabel Dion, D. Min. tells us that the liturgical services on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) are among the very best things we do in the church. It celebrates Jesus’ passing from this world to his Father. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. exclaims "Don’t miss the best part!” and offers a practical guide to the Liturgies of Holy Week.

It is precisely during “Holy Week” when Jesus’ public ministry culminated with His suffering, death and resurrection. Msgr. Charles Pope presents a brief description of each day of Jesus’ Final week to serve as our spiritual guide. Prayerfully we can and must walk with Jesus in His most difficult and yet glorious week.

2012 Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) Awards

It's that time of the year again when we Catholics honor film and TV projects that encapsulate the values us Catholics hold dear to our hearts. The Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) 19th Annual Mass and Awards Brunch on Sunday, April 29, 2012, will honor the 5-time Academy Award-winning, Martin Scorsese-directed family film Hugo, the Tom Shadyac documentary I Am and ABC Television’s Emmy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Peabody Award-winning series Modern Family. The Emilio Estevez film The Way, starring Martin Sheen, a previous CIMA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, will receive the CIMA 2012 Board of Directors Award.

The CIMA awards is open to the public and will be held this year at the Beverly Hills Hotel. For 2012 CIMA Award tickets, sponsorship and program advertising visit or call 818.907.2734.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTIONS: What sacraments did Jesus institute on Holy Thursday?
FEATURED BLOG: The Veiling of Images in Lent (Old Passion Sunday)
PASTORAL HISPANA: Hoy entramos triunfantes con Cristo en Jerusalen

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