Palm Sunday Reflection

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Today’s reflection was written by Brother Tom Murphy, C.F.X

“The Master has need of it.”

In today’s Gospel passage we see Jesus commissioning two disciples to procure the colt upon which He would ride through Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives so that He might fulfill the will of His Father as foretold in the Scriptures (1 Kings 1:38 Zechariah 9:9): that the people would proclaim him their leader and king. We know also that a few days later the greed and jealousy of the leaders would stir the people to denunciations of Jesus’ type of kingdom and call for His crucifixion and death. Throughout this Gospel narrative Jesus portrays total fidelity to the mission given Him by His Father for the Redemption of whole of the human race.

Riding on a donkey itself was/is not so subtle an indication of his style of kingship. “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” (John 18:36) Zechariah 9:9 says: “See your king shall come to you, meek and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.” Is not this way of Jesus in perfect sync with being grounded in the ordinary way through which we shy away from a life of privilege and entitlement?

The “hosannas” of Palm Sunday and “Crucify Him” of Good Friday are not antithetical but complementary in Jesus, especially from the aspect of giving witness to mission by accepting the plaudits of the crowds in one instance and a few days later their demands for His crucifixion and death. What is this saying to us? That our witness to mission is a call to be taken seriously. Giving witness is risky business, no matter from what angle it is viewed, because it is fraught with motivations which run the gamut from giving truthful testimony and acting accordingly to a boastful braggadocio manner for the undeserved admiring respect of others. The contrast cannot be more stark between deserved recognition and ostentatious notoriety, the former honestly, even humbly, offered to validate truthful good in another, the latter to display the shallow vision of false quality to gain attention.

One must be careful in giving public witness, for in giving praise merely to flatter and gain patronage, one could easily prostitute his/her own integrity. The contrary is easily discerned, especially when one feels an urgency to give voice and action to pay honest tribute to another’s virtue and does so. It’s okay to accept complimentary estimation in recognition of unselfish accomplishment so long as it does not evoke a sense of prideful exclusivity or an exaggerated self-centeredness. Giving testimonial witness to persons confirms them in the pursuit of their service and dedication to others. It would be wrong to impute impropriety to a worthy person for the good he/she has done unselfishly for another. One thinks of Jesus standing silently before Pilate and the mob crying out for his crucifixion and how his sense of abandonment was so complete with not a single witness to stand for Him.

How hurtful to realize one’s aloneness from so called collaborators who well know the pain, sacrifice, and deprivation of one whose only witness is the loudest silence of an approving heart whose lips remain tightly shut!



God of Light and of Life, you have given us The Way by sending Creation your Son. May we who follow His passion and death experience His resurrection and allow it to gift us with the energy, compassion, and wisdom to follow Jesus Christ’s Mission. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.


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One Comment

  1. Tony Coscia says:

    Tom, Well done. Thoughful and reflective.

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