March 29, 2015: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others. But once we separate our work from our private lives, everything turns grey and we will always be seeking recognition or asserting our needs. We stop being a people. (273) The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
Entrance Gospel: Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm: 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47
Catechism of the Catholic Church
How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”. Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”. Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth and so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds. Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”, is taken up by the Church in the Sanctus of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover. (559) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Palm Sunday
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Human misery is a clear sign of man’s natural condition of frailty and of his need for salvation. Christ the Saviour showed compassion in this regard, identifying himself with the “least” among men (cf. Mt 25:40,45). “It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When ‘the poor have the good news preached to them’ (Mt 11:5), it is a sign of Christ’s presence”.
Jesus says: “You always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me” (Mt26:11; cf. Mk 14:7; Jn 12:8). He makes this statement not to contrast the attention due to him with service of the poor. Christian realism, while appreciating on the one hand the praiseworthy efforts being made to defeat poverty, is cautious on the other hand regarding ideological positions and Messianistic beliefs that sustain the illusion that it is possible to eliminate the problem of poverty completely from this world. This will happen only upon Christ’s return, when he will be with us once more, for ever. In the meantime, the poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time (cf. Mt 25:31-46): “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren” (183)
The unsurpassed apex of the perspective indicated here is the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the New Man, who is one with humanity even to the point of “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). In him it is always possible to recognize the living sign of that measureless and transcendent love of God-with-us, who takes on the infirmities of his people, walks with them, saves them and makes them one. In him and thanks to him, life in society too, despite all its contradictions and ambiguities, can be rediscovered as a place of life and hope, in that it is a sign of grace that is continuously offered to all and because it is an invitation to ever higher and more involved forms of sharing.
Jesus of Nazareth makes the connection between solidarity and charity shine brightly before all, illuminating the entire meaning of this connection: “In the light of faith, solidarity seeks to go beyond itself, to take on the specifically Christian dimensions of total gratuity, forgiveness and reconciliation. One’s neighbour is then not only a human being with his or her own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but becomes the living imageof God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the permanent action of the Holy Spirit. One’s neighbour must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her; and for that person’s sake one must be ready for sacrifice, even the ultimate one: to lay down one’s life for the brethren (cf. 1 Jn3:16)”. (196)
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Jesus asked the question of His identity answered, “I am”, to acknowledge He was the Christ, the son of the Blessed One. Pilate asked questions of what he was to do with the man called King of the Jews and if He had done any evil. But the crowd, a hyperbole of humanity, they could not enter a dialogue of asking and heartfelt answering questions, along with complementary listening. Questions to allow another to stratify their identity, express their concerns, pledge their allegiance to hope. Listening to the voice proclaiming the profound meaning of life, the voice seeking reconciliation, the voice embracing inclusion. The crowd was too much in a hurry to celebrate a feast, no time to ask questions or listen, as they were hurriedly stumbling into a holy ritual, but as hollow as a bone lacking the marrow of life. In haste, their voices spewed venom of condemnation without taking the time to understand, to soulfully delve into knowing what they were asking for.
Jesus was not the first person to be crucified on Golgotha, in place or symbolic principle. In His humanity, He joined the lineage of many unjustly condemned, because people judge and do not ask questions, seek control and dominance and foster an environment void of reconciliation. And ultimately when people deny themselves the blessing of listening because they will not spend the time or expend the compassionate energy to hear the depth of another’s soul, the vibrancy and passion of their heart, they can only spew venom to crucify the hope of others.
As we seek the voices for justice in our Church, towns and global community, we must first listen. Listen to God’s parameters for justice, listen to struggles of people’s whose shoes we could not wear, listen to contradicting ideologies bound in shackles of restraint from consensus. And from listening, a process meandering, pondering in time, have the courage to ask questions. The” why “of being mired in the stagnation of the status quo and the “how” to progress towards where wholeness and healing might emerge. To create an environment where dialogue ceases to be hostage to stereotypes and the freedom for open, constructive discussion blooms. Then, only then, will crucifixions cease. For people will have a voice and be granted their dignity to not have their lives snuffed out by systemic social, emotional and even physical cries and acts of vengeance.
Individual Reflection: Mark 14:1-15:47
Learn about the resources available from Catholic Mobilizing Network, in their support of repealing the death penalty, and share some in your parish bulletin:
Family Reflection: Mark 14:1-15:47
Reflecting on today’s newspaper, who is being crucified. Why do they lack a voice?
This Good Friday prayerfully reflect on those crucified today. Here are some resources, including Stations of the Cross, from Pax Christi:
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, March 19, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.