March 24th, 2013 (see other dates)
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Discussion Questions for Reading 1There is a saying, perhaps from World War II: "There are no atheists in foxholes." An atheist is someone who does not believe that God exits. A foxhole is a hole or trench a soldier digs to give himself a place to hide from bombs and bullets. The saying means that, when close to death, even someone who never believed in God will finally turn to God for help. And of course God will hear all prayers, especially from those close to death!
The liturgy reminds us that Jesus was about to die. The first reading gives us a glimpse of what his prayer might have been. But we know that Jesus did not begin to pray just because he was about to die. He prayed all of his life, "morning after morning." How do you think this helped make him strong as he faced death? Reread the passage from Isaiah. Find all the places that show the strength of this person who prayed all of his life.
Then pray together: The Lord God is my help. I shall not be afraid. The Lord God is my help forever and always.
Reading 1 Luke 19:28-40
Reading 1 ReflectionAlthough the writer probably had Israel itself in mind, his inspired verses in this first reading give us a perfect Holy Week portrait of Christ. The Son of God has been prepared and sent by God to "rouse" the people. When his teaching stirs up opposition, he does not fight back or run away. He does not give in or give up. No matter what happens to him, Jesus anchors himself in God and continues to trust.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2One test of a good leader is that he or she never asks a follower or "an underling" to do what he or she would not be able or willing to do. How does this apply to Jesus as our leader, as the one who leads us through life to God? Death is part of our human condition. What if Jesus had said, "No thank you, Father, I'll skip this part?"
Death on a cross was the worst death possible at the time of Jesus. It was the death of a criminal. Why do you think Jesus accepted this kind of death?
We must always remember that death is not the end. STAND and read together triumphantly the words of this reading that begin at verse 9, "Because of this . . ." Then KNEEL at verse 10, "That at the name. . ." STAND at verse 11, "And every tongue," to the end.
Reading 2 Philippians 2:6-11
Reading 2 ReflectionPaul's hymn of praise gives us another Holy Week portrait of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Freely, Jesus chose to "bring himself down" to our human condition. Freely, he humbled himself to suffer persecution and death on a cross. Freely, he gave his life in one long and glorious prayer of obedience to God.
Discussion Questions for GospelOver the years, the "good thief" (we do not really know whether he was a thief or not, but he is traditionally called a thief) has been given the name Dismas. He has been considered a saint, and is the patron of prisoners and those who help people who are in jail. "To visit the imprisoned" is a work of mercy Jesus asked of his followers. (See Matthew 25:31-46.)
According to this passage from the Gospel of Luke, the only people around Jesus who recognized him in any way were this criminal (who accepts responsibility for what he did and asks Jesus only to "remember him") and the centurion who, after Jesus? death, glorified God and said, "This man was innocent."
Jesus' friends and acquaintances "stood at a distance." Sometimes, when we go through hard times, our friends and acquaintances also keep their distance! However, Jesus was not left alone. The thief and the centurion, who had never met him before, were there with him. They believed in him. Sometimes encouragement comes from people we least expect. We are not left alone. Have you had this experience?
Gospel Luke 22:14--23:56
Gospel ReflectionToday is called both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. Since the early centuries of the Church, Christians have carried palm branches in joyful processions on this day. We sing or shout, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" like the crowd that followed Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of what we now call Holy Week. This year we hear the passion account from Luke's Gospel. It tells a moving story of Jesus, who consoles the "good criminal" and forgives those who nailed him to the cross.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Entry into JerusalemRead or tell in your own words, Luke 19:28-40 to the children. Reenact this scripture story with the children. Give each child a palm made out of green construction paper. Line the children up forming two rows facing each other, as if on both sides of a road. Have one child act out the part of Jesus. As "Jesus" processes down the center of the "road" into Jerusalem, have the children cheer and wave their palms.
Oh When Christ Jesus Comes Riding InTeach the following song to the children. Sing this song when acting out the story of Palm Sunday and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
To the tune of Oh When the Saints Go Marching In
Oh when Christ Jesus comes riding in.
Oh when Christ Jesus comes riding in.
We will wave our palms and praise him.
When Christ Jesus comes riding in.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Creating a Cross PrayerPaul writes that our attitude must be the same as Christ's. We must forgive our enemies and entrust our lives into God's hands, especially when we feel most alone or in trouble. Draw the outline of a cross below or on a separate sheet of paper. Inside the arms of the cross, write your own prayer. Focus on the words of Jesus and on your own need to forgive and trust.
Jesus, you trust in God's love for you even on the cross. Help me to trust in times of trouble.
Friends in NeedThere is an old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." This means that a true friend will be a friend to me, not only when times are good, but also, and especially, when I am in need. Friends who are friends only when everything is "smooth sailing" and are nowhere to be found when troubled and stormy times come are called "fair weather friends."
According to this Gospel passage, Jesus was abandoned and left alone by his friends when he was dying on the cross. However, after his resurrection, his first words to his friends were, "Peace be to you." He understood their weakness and forgave them. He gave them the freedom to start over.
Am I a true friend or a "fair weather friend" to others? Make a list of the qualities of a true friend below. Ask Jesus to help you be a true friend to others. The first line has been started for you.
A true friend. . .
wants what is good for my friend and not just what is good for me.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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