There is a chance that we can get two Gospels today one at the beginning before the processional and the regular one, it all depends on how the parish handles the event. In the first one we hear Mark or John’s account of the entry into Jerusalem. I will only be talking about Mark here today. The story is basically the same across the gospels Jesus and his disciples are approaching Jerusalem and Jesus send two into the village to get a colt for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem on. Jesus tells them that there will be a tethered colt and you should take it and if anyone asks “Why are you taking the colt” answer “The Master has need of it.” So the two went into the village and came upon a colt and while they were untying it they were asked “Why are you taking the colt” and they responded just as Jesus had told them to. They brought the colt back and after placing their cloaks on it Jesus rode it into the city and the people on the side of the road we shouting Hosanna, and waving palms branches and placing their cloaks and branches on the road. The big part of this reading is that we are taking the place of the crowds I know that some communities rent a donkey\colt for this weekend and have a huge spectacle. This participation continues later on as well.
In the Mass proper we begin with a the prophet Isaiah and we hear one of the Servant songs. It is the third one (Is 50:4-9) and we hear the servant described for us, the servant has a well trained tongue, and he give his whole self, my back to those who beat me, my cheek to those who pick my beard, and he has set his face like flint knowing that he will not be out to shame. Christians like to associate the servant with Jesus while Jews take the servant as a metaphor of the Jewish people.
In the letter to Philippians we hear a Christological hymn, which was perhaps even sung by the early Church, sort of like how the Psalms are sung. This is the most famous of the Christological Hymns and there are several others. The hymn hits all of the big parts about who Jesus is. We hear in the hymn how Christ Jesus chose humility and emptied himself becoming obedient even until death on a cross, and because of this at the name of Jesus every knee should bend. Scholars believe that the words were not originally Paul’s and he just wrote them down. The key aspect of this reading is that to attain heaven we hear that we need to humble ourselves.
Turning to the actual Gospel reading we have Mark’s account of the Passion of Christ. This is that one time of the year when we all get to participate in reading the gospel, We all know the story but to be quick. There are fourteen scenes we begin with the chief priests and scribes looking for ways to arrest Jesus and in Bethany while at Simon the leper’s house a woman comes in and anoints Jesus. The scene changes to Judas approaching the chief priests and offering to help get Jesus. We are on to the events on the first night of Passover and the Last Supper. Jesus once again sends to disciples into town and says there’s a room and just say the master needs it and get everything ready for Passover. Jesus arrives and while they were eating Jesus took bread blessed it broke it gave it saying “this is my body” then he did the same with the wine saying “this is my blood.” After this they went out to the Mount of Olives, and Gethsemane where Jesus asked them to sit here while I pray. Jesus prayed that three times asking that the cup may pass from him, the disciples fall asleep and Jesus wakes them saying he comes the betrayer. Judas shows up and kisses Jesus so the crowd knows who to arrest. Jesus is brought before the high priest and Peter follows at a safe distance. The priests claim that Jesus blasphemed and Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.
Jesus is then brought before Pilate when Pilate tries to understand why they want Jesus dead. On Passover there was a tradition in releasing one prisoner so Pilate brought out Barabbas and Jesus then he had the crowd decide who to same they chose Barabbas. Jesus is crowned with thorns and beaten by the soldiers. On the way to Golgotha, Simon the Cyrene is forced to help carry the cross, Jesus is crucified with two others. On Calvary passersby jeered as Jesus asking you saved so many other why can’t you save yourself? Jesus then dies on the cross darkness covers the whole land and the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two. Jesus is then taken from the cross and placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, and they rolled a big stone in front of the tomb.
As we begin this Holy Week let us remember the servant in the first reading and how Jesus in the second are both described. We must be able to humble ourselves and be willing to give all of ourselves for something greater than us. Humility is one of the biggest thing that the world need more of there are too many egos floating around in the world today who thing they are better than everyone else, but we are all the same. Let us all try to be a bit more humble this week and not brag about doing it. I hope that we all can take some time this week and reflect on the Passion of Jesus and ponder what role we would have played if we were there, would we be in the crowd shouting for Jesus to die, just a bystander who gets wrangled into helping or that guy who just happens to have an empty tomb.