Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 2024 Franciscan Gospel Reflection

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

March 21, 2024

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel readings for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Where do you personally find it easiest to imagine yourself in these readings, and where the most difficult?

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 24 2024 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos:; Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mark 11:1-10

Jesus’ actions as recorded by Mark here are largely symbolic and they reinterpret messianic traditions.  Jesus does not enter Jerusalem on foot as an ordinary pilgrim. Instead, he rides like a messianic king. A king has the right to claim the property of another when needed. Jesus claimed the use of the donkey but he will return it when it is no longer needed. Jesus is in control of the situation. He knows in advance where the donkey will be, and that the disciples will be questioned when they attempt to take it, and how they are to respond.

As Jesus enters the city, he comes over the hill of the Mount of Olives, riding in triumph into Jerusalem, a place long associated with the Messiah. People spread their cloaks before him as they once did for the King. Jesus’ entrance is described in way that points to the fulfillment of messianic expectations.

 John 12:12-16

While John does not give details of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the significance is clear. The Passover celebrates and commemorates the people’s liberation form slavery and their birth as a nation. The crowd have come to take part in the celebration. Here the people go out to meet Jesus and greet him with palm branches, a symbol of victory. They believe that Jesus is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, and that he is the King of Israel. Jesus not ride on a horse in triumph, but a donkey. John include that fact that disciples are left confused as to the meaning of what they are witnessing.  

Mark 14:1-15:47 (long) or 15:1-39 (short)

The passion accounts are the only parts of the gospel material that existed from the first in the form of continuous narratives. They were probably constructed as Christian narratives for liturgical recital. Each passion has its particular theological emphasis.

Mark’s account presents a continuous narrative of the events of Jesus’s passion from the preparation of the Passover meal to Jesus’ death and burial. The events from the anointing of Jesus to their conclusion seem to be the unfolding of a plan. This notion is reinforced by Jesus’ describing how the room for the Passover was to be found, and the predictions of betrayal by Judas and Peter.

The narrative is consistent with the life of Jesus, in his relations with religious leaders, and among the common people and those on the fringe of society. It is only the women who remain faithful and look on while he is being crucified and tend to his burial. The men who are his followers betray and deny him, and flee to safety. And it is foreigners who assist in carrying the cross, a centurion who at Jesus’ death remarks that “Truly this man was the Son of God!” and Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish council who asks Pilate for the body of Jesus.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are some of the things you are feeling as you reflect on these gospel texts?
  2. Where do you personally find it easiest to imagine yourself in these readings, and where the most difficult?
  3. What would you like to say to Jesus as you reflect on these readings?
  4. What would you like to say to the Father?
  5. How do you understand the events that these readings record as an expression of God’s desire to be in a loving and life-giving relationship with you, and with all men and women, and all of creation?
  6. Can you take the time now to begin to express to God whatever is on your heart as you reflect on the events that are recorded in these readings?

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