Lenten Gospel Reflections, Day 40: Palm Sunday

During this season of Lent, I will be working through Bishop Robert Barron’s Lenten Gospel Reflections (available through Word on Fire). Each day, I will share the readings and the reflection question, followed by my own thoughts.


Sunday, April 10, 2022
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Jesus Institutes the Eucharist
14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the chalice after supper, saying, “This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it was that would do this.

The Dispute about Greatness
24 A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have continued with me in my trials; 29 as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Peter’s Denial Foretold
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” 33 And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”

Purse, Bag, and Sword
35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfilment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
39 And he came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and captains of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance; 55 and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later some one else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

The Mocking and Beating of Jesus
63 Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; 64 they also blindfolded him and asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.

Jesus before the Council
66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 And they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 And they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Jesus before Pilate
23 Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

Jesus before Herod
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, clothing him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Jesus Sentenced to Death
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; 15 neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; 16 I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”—19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; 21 but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.

The Crucifixion of Jesus
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Death of Jesus
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the multitudes who assembled to see the sight, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.

The Burial of Jesus
50 Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; 56 then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

The Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Luke 22:14-23:56). (2006). Ignatius Press.

Reflect on the marvel of God’s plan of salvation and how He turns suffering into triumph for all who believe.


At Mass, we enacted the above reading in a dramatized way – one lector was the narrator, the priest was Jesus, another lector was the single-voice characters (Peter, Pilate), and the congregation voiced the group parts. It was chilling to declare of Christ, “Away with this man…Crucify, crucify him!” And I realized that though I wasn’t there with the crowd shouting for Christ’s condemnation, my sins – my selfishness, and anger, and lust, and unforgiveness – shout to heaven louder than any words. And yet Christ in His infinite love doesn’t point out my hypocrisy. He, the innocent one, doesn’t point the finger at my guilt. Rather, He meekly surrenders to my accusations and goes to the Cross, where He dies – the perfect sacrifice. And through it all, He forgives – and by doing so, He triumphs once and for all over the curse of sin and death, reconciling all those who believe in Him to unity with God.

Lord, Your sacrificial love overwhelms me. Let me be more like You.

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