April 2, 2023
Matthew 26: 14 – 27:66 or 27:11-54
Almost 40 years ago I spent Holy week and Easter week in Jerusalem. I was privileged to be part of a pilgrimage of which 30 men and women took part. They were from all walks of life, and the leader was a priest who had spent many years teaching theology and was very experienced and familiar with Jewish life and with Jerusalem.
On the morning of Palm Sunday, we visited Gethsemane where Jesus prayed in agony on the evening of Maundy Thursday. I remember to this day the sunshine and the many crowds of holiday-makers in the city below. As we assembled for our first walk the mood of so many people was joyful, and I immediately began to realize that all we were going to experience was in contrast to the reality of our pilgrimage.
In the early afternoon we began to join the crowds who were standing where the Palm Sunday procession was to take place. There were hundreds of people speaking many languages – brass bands, choirs, drums and at the end of all, the donkey bearing a cassocked priest.
It is with this background that I am continuing my own Lenten journey which I enter with Christ in contemplation of his suffering and death. I recall my amazement when I first heard the words expressed by Jesus, “I have longed to eat this Passover with you.” Over many years I have thought of the real meaning of Christ’s words. I use the word “amazed” because of what Jesus suffered from that time on. I began to see that what mattered most to Jesus was the reality of his total love for every person. Each event of his life, each word, each action reflects the love which is always uppermost. Jesus on a donkey, going through crowds, his awareness of Judas’ betrayal – “One of you is about to betray me,” Jesus’ explanation of the meaning of the bread and wine: “Take and eat: This is my body” “Drink, for this is my blood.”
As the evening progresses Jesus leaves the Upper Room and goes to the Mount of Olives where He tells his friends: “You will all lose faith in me this night.” Here we are all faced with the reality of our failures as we hear Jesus tell us: “You will all lose faith in me this night” and Peter says, “I will never lose faith in you.” We hear the words of Jesus, “This very night before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.” Jesus prays, “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death and asks, “Wait here, keep awake with me.”
Each of these examples gives us a clear message of the depths of love pouring from Jesus even as his friends fall asleep! This is a beginning of the gradual realization of what Jesus is showing us and asking us to believe. The depth of His love drives Jesus through the whole experience of His trial: humiliation, the stripping, the crown of thorns, the shouting of the crowds, the Way of the Cross with frequent falls.
The magnitude of the love of Jesus who sought no way of escape is to show everyone in the world the truth of his love. Jesus emptied himself to show His total love for each person.
Matthew 26: 14 – 27:66 or 27:11-54
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Meet Sister Mary Cluderay, SNDdeN