Palm Sunday – March 28, 2021
Lectionary Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-9,17-20,23-24; Phil 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47
Theme: Because of Unconditional Love
As we begin this Holy Week, we may reflect on a year ago when for many, if not for most of us, we were unable to celebrate this most Holy Week with our communities of faith due to Coved 19. As we focus on the sufferings of Jesus, we remember the trauma of millions of sisters and brothers around the world who have endured immense suffering and death this year. We also recognize that thousands have come forward in love and commitment to serve those in need, despite possible harm to themselves. As Jesus embraced his suffering and death out of unconditional love for humanity, so others have followed in his footsteps at this time and throughout history.
From the prophet Isaiah, not afraid that he may be put to shame, to the psalmist standing up to those who mock him and who gives praise to Adonai who loves him, to Paul proclaiming that Christ Jesus took on our humanity which included death on a cross and Mark taking us on the journey from the “so-called” victory of Palm Sunday to the Cross days later, we discover that unconditional love is the underlying motivation. There is recognition on the part of these holy ones who preceded us that despite the question: “why have you abandoned me?” (Mk 15:34), there is a deep-down realization that our Creator G-d, has not left us alone. “But you, Adonai, don’t be far off! My strength, hurry to help me… I will proclaim your Name to my sisters and brothers, and praise you in the full assembly” (Ps 22:19, 22). Isn’t this our present prayer?
In Mark we have the disciples gathered for the Passover meal, the celebration of the release of the Jews from the bondage in Egypt, and the sacrifice of the Pascal lamb. Mark treats this as a full meal (though not a Seder, which came after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.) At the meal, a woman anoints Jesus: the action that could be either anointing a king or preparing a body for burial. Mark’s irony suggests both. This woman is also acting prophetically as many there don’t understand her actions and are very negative in their response. This anointing will be retold in remembrance of her, but she is not named. This omission is possibly the reality that the unnamed “everywoman” understands Jesus, while the named disciples do not! Once again, we see this act of unconditional love despite the possible risk.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1) What hope do I bring to Holy Week 2021? What new insights and experiences give a renewed sense of the meaning of unconditional love that we are given and the call for us to “do this in remembrance of me”? 2) What challenges face us as people of faith and members of the global community in this regard?
Bibliography: Bergant, Dianne. The Word for Every Season, Cycle B; Levine, Amy-Jill & Brettler, Marc Zvi. The Jewish Annotated New Testament– NRSV –; The inclusive psalms – Priests for Equality.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, Delaware, USA, 2001 Alumna