Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. We will hear the reading of The Passion according to Matthew today, recounting Jesus’ Last Supper and all the dramatic and sorrowful events leading up to His crucifixion and His death on Good Friday. Jesus foretold His passion; he knew when He came into Jerusalem that He was going to face betrayal, violence, and terrible physical suffering. So, what was His attitude going into this?
In today’s second reading, St. Paul says: “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:5-6) Another word for grasp would be “cling”. Jesus chose not to cling to His divine prerogatives, and to humbly submit to an ignominious death on a cross. These words were addressed to the people at Philippi in northeastern Greece, many of whom were retired Roman soldiers, and whose culture emphasized ambition, status, and wealth.
St. Paul goes on to say: “Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8) The phrase “emptied Himself” (“kenosis” in Greek) is the opposite of “grasping” or clinging.
As Holy Week progresses, we see Jesus the servant leader, humbling kneeling on the floor, and washing His disciples’ feet. We see His forbearance as He endures the betrayal of friends, and the arrogant taunts of those in power. We see him comforting those who walked to Calvary with him. We see Him letting go, pouring out His life for us.
As Passionists we proclaim that the Passion is the extraordinary expression of the love of God. This week, as we contemplate Jesus’ Passion, may our hearts be imbued with the attitude of Jesus, who did not cling or grasp, but emptied Himself for love.
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.