Reflection for Sunday – March 24, 2024

Readings: Mark 11: 1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2: 6-11; Mark 14: 1-15:47 
Preacher: M Lourdes Perez-Albuerne

Today’s gospel is an introduction to Holy Week where we commemorate Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  We read the passion according to the evangelist Mark who begins with Jesus’ triumphal entrance in Jerusalem and how He complies, as a faithful Jew, with the tradition of celebrating the Passover with His followers.

 He arrives in the holy city, as it was called by the Jews, and enters it receiving the acclamation from his followers and some of the population to shouts of: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  This recognition by the people comes partially because they have seen or heard of His mercy towards sinners, His miracles curing the infirm, and His power over the evil one and even over death.  This is the reason they now acclaim Him as the Messiah they have been awaiting—who will liberate them from the Romans and also from the religious leaders. 

Jesus, even though He accepts the shouts of joy that the group offers Him, is conscious that they still don’t understand the meaning of His life among them.  He does not enter mounted on a horse, as a triumphant conqueror who wants to subjugate the people, but as a humble servant riding a donkey with a simple cloth for his saddle, not riding over a great rug, but olive branches—symbol of peace.  This is followed by His celebrating the Passover with His followers to remember how God saved God’s people from the Egyptians.

 But there is another reason Jesus has for this celebration.  He wants to emphasize that, even if He is going to die, He will always be with those who consider themselves His followers, that His death doesn’t annul the links He shares with them and with us.  By concretizing His memorial around a meal, Jesus stresses that He will continue providing those present at the table, as well as us, with the strength, needed to face the trials and tribulations we encounter in our lives.  By celebrating this meal just prior to His execution, He reminds us that when we eat the Bread and drink the Wine, we are sharing also His life in a most intimate way and, therefore, are willing to continue His mission in faithful obedience to the Father and are ready to accept the consequences as He did.

In celebrating this meal Jesus is conscious that He will soon die and wants them, and us, to be aware of what has been His passion during His life: loving passion for His Abba and complete service to all human beings.  Jesus celebrates this meal with great intensity and when he distributes the bread and the wine, He is clearly saying to them and us: look, this is MeI give you my body and blood as reminders of my life, that I have devoted to bring to all human beings the plenitude of life.  Remember me so that you are conscious that my mission was to establish on earth God’s Kingdom.  This total obedience to His Abba is the clear manifestation of His love and total confidence to His God; and of His love for allof us.  God sent Him to live amongst us so that we could understand how God is a loving parent who wants us all to live forever in His house.

The way that Jesus lived in this earth, as a Son made a human person, proclaims the understanding that God is ready to accept us with all our human imperfections.  In His life on earth Jesus sheds all of his glory and becomes the devoted servant to us and to His God.  He doesn’t live His human condition to His own benefit.  He lives His sonship and His divinity to favor the human whose essence He has assumed.

So, we enter into this Holy Week with grateful hearts for the gift God gave us of His only Son to teach us how to live.  For God loves us as a Father/Mother and calls us to live in solidarity with those in this world of ours who are crucified daily by our society.  Those who are excluded from the right to live a dignified human life, the hungry, the imprisoned, the homeless, the migrant, those who we exclude from sharing the goods of this earth that God has provided for all.  May we all celebrate these mysteries of our faith with the same spirit that Jesus did.  May we then be ready to celebrate Jesus’ triumph and His gift of eternal live for all of us.  So be it.

Lourdes Perez Albuerne
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