Palm Sunday

Jesus stands with his disciples looking out over Jersualem

Daily Offering

An offering with ‘the owner of a colt’ (Mark 11: 1-10): Sometimes I can’t understand why I have to give up this thing or that thing that I value, but Lord, if you need it for your service or someone else’s, then it’s yours - and so am I. I know you give me your very self in return. Amen.        Tom Shufflebotham SJ

Entering into Prayer

Choose a way to enter into prayer from earlier in Lent or any method that you prefer.

Today's Scripture (Luke 19: 28-40)
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

‘Blessed is the king

who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven,

and glory in the highest heaven!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’

Food for thought

Today, with the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, after the long journey up from Galilee through Samaria, we enter the solemn drama of Holy Week, the climax of the Church’s year, as we move towards our greatest feast of Easter. He comes from the East, where the Messiah is supposed to appear; and he comes, not to the Temple but to the Mount of Olives, which in Luke’s gospel functions as a kind of counterpoint with the Temple. Then, rather daring, and in accordance with a preordained code (“say, ‘the Lord has need of it’.”), he mounts “a foal on which no one has yet ridden”, which might have been expected to throw him off, but does nothing of the kind. Then there is a crowd, singing from Psalm 117, and repeating what the angels sang to the Christmas shepherds (“on earth peace, and glory in the highest”) back at the beginning of the gospel.

Suggestions for prayer

One thing you might do is to watch the various characters who appear. There is, firstly, Jesus himself, effortlessly leading the way up to Jerusalem, giving coded instructions to his disciples, sitting on an untamed animal, greeted in Old Testament terms as “Blessed is the Coming One, the King in the Lord’s name”. Then, when his opponents rebuke him for the noise the crowds of disciples are making, he makes the opaque judgement that “if these shut up, the stones will cry out”. Finally, the very next thing that Jesus does, which is not in our gospel, but is very much part of the story, is weep over Jerusalem for its failure to recognise “the things that lead to peace”. The stones are, of course, the stones of the Temple, which will soon be destroyed...

Secondly, there are the disciples, who are not up to much beyond collecting the animal and repeating their instructions; but once the procession starts they put their garments on the beast of burden and on the road ahead of Jesus. They are in a position to rejoice as Jesus goes down from the Mount of Olives, and praise God “at the top of their voices about all the miracles they had seen”. But how bright do you think they are?

Thirdly, there are the owners of the foal, who interrogate the disciples about what they are doing, and when they hear the message they let the animal go. What is their part in the story?

Finally, in the crowd there are some of Jesus’ opponents, “some of the Pharisees”, who want Jesus’ disciples shut up. They will of course get their way next Friday. How do they feature in your prayer?

How are you going to respond today?

One thing you might do, as you contemplate the list of characters, is to decide now, once and for all, which side you are on. There are the apostles, gallantly making the effort to cope, but shortly to abandon Jesus when things get tough; then there are the crowds, today shouting their joy, but a few days later baying for blood. There are the foal’s owners: how do they look to you? Finally, there are Jesus’ opponents. Do they win the battle, do you think? And what about you today?

Image for the day

Jesus stands with his disciples looking out over Jersualem

  • How do you feel about this picture?

  • Can you imagine being there with Jesus, as he is about to enter Jerusalem?

  • How do you think the disciples felt?

Examen (review of prayer)

Use any style of examen you prefer to review your prayer and your day.

Going Deeper 

Reflections for Holy Week

Imaginative Conversations for Holy Week

The Way of Holy Week

Palm Sunday in Mark's Gospel