Palm Sunday [B]

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord [B]
Isa 50:4-7  +  Phil 2:6-11  +  Mk 14:1—15:47
March 25, 2018

Then they crucified Him and divided His garments by casting lots for them….

Today’s feast has two names, reflecting the unusual fact that two Gospel passages are proclaimed at today’s Mass.  From the Gospel passage proclaimed at the start of Mass comes the name “Palm Sunday”.  This name reflects the seeming glory shown Jesus as He rode into the royal city of Jerusalem.  Jesus seemed to be a king.  He seemed to enter the city to bring liberation.  The palm branches were waved with confidence, with cries of “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

But from the long Gospel passage proclaimed after the Second Reading comes the name “Passion Sunday” for today’s feast.  This long passage reveals the descent from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!”  This long passage reveals the fickleness of sinful man, and the long-suffering patience of the God-man.

As a wise retired priest of our diocese often points out, the word “patience” comes from the Latin verb “patior”, meaning “to suffer”.  St. Thomas Aquinas speaks to Jesus’ patience throughout this long Gospel passage.  “The passion of Christ”, St. Thomas notes, “completely suffices to fashion our lives.”

“If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the Cross,” St. Thomas continues.  “Great patience occurs in two ways:  either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not”.

Of course, it’s not fashionable today to bear with suffering patiently, much less seek meaning in it.  Only grace can make us strong enough to embrace the Cross for what it is.  Only grace can strengthen us to bear our own crosses with patience:  to suffer in order to find liberation from the power of sin and death over us.