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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, April 1, 2012

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

April 1, 2012, Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday

Cycle B. Readings:

Procession with Palms: Mark 11:1-10

1) Isaiah 50:4-7

Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24

2) Philippians 2:6-11

Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47

Who can approach these readings without a sense of both awe and sadness? I confess, I only read the Passion Scriptures at this time of year to avoid the depth of feelings they engender.

But even with their extremes of exultation and suffering, we may feel that we can identify, at least in part, with some of the sufferings that Jesus experienced.

Certainly the cycle of riding high in the estimation of others represented by Palm Sunday and then the crashing fury of the arrest, trial, scourging, Way of the Cross and Crucifixion must all seem somehow familiar in the ways our society first elevates, then castigates public figures.

But the differences are great. Even Pilate is forced to ask, after the crowd has chosen the release of the rebel Barabbas over the release of Jesus, "Why? What evil has he done?"

Jesus went about preaching the good news, healing the sick and doing good. What harm was there in him?

The ecclesial Focolare movement, as one of the defining elements of its spirituality, asks its members to seek to identify in prayer with Jesus as he spoke these words from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

As with his sinlessness, we cannot see in any other figure a similar sense of isolation and abandonment. Out of obedience to his Father, having become the lamb of God, on whose shoulders all the sins of humankind are laid, Jesus then experiences the isolation -- beyond understanding -- of being one with God and yet totally separated from God, for our sake.

Is it any wonder that these moments in the liturgies of both Passion Sunday and Good Friday call for kneeling and a silent pause?

How else can we appreciate the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice but in a moment of awed, appreciative silence?


When my own troubles -- or those of people I love -- seem to be overwhelming, how can I find solace in the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross?


"At three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which is translated, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" (Mark 15:34).


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