April 17, 2011
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: Mt 21:1-11; Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mt 26:14—27:66
Today, Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday we enter into the Holiest Week of our Church Calendar. We begin Mass today with a short procession to the center of the Church where we read the first Gospel and bless the Palms. We remember that Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem with great acclaim. “The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David”
(Mt 21: 8-9). The same disciples that proudly enter into the city of Jerusalem on this day will be the first ones to run and deny Jesus later in the week. The same crowds that proclaim Jesus as the prophet will call for his
crucifixion. And the same religious leaders that hide in fear at the entrance of the Messiah into the Holy City return in dark of night on Thursday to arrest Jesus.
God’s love through the passion of Christ is greater than our human weaknesses. While Judas is choosing thirty pieces of silver, Jesus is giving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. While Peter is weak and denying our Lord, Jesus is being faithful to God and us. While the disciples are falling asleep in prayer, Jesus is attentive to the will of His Father. While the religious leaders are afraid they are going to lose their power, Jesus is humble even to death on the cross. While the people are weak and fickle following the trends of the moment, Jesus is faithful to the end. While Pilate is willing to wash his hands and go along with condemning an
innocent man to avoid trouble for himself, Jesus is willing to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. And while the Roman soldiers who knew nothing about Jesus were willing to go along with the status quo, Jesus is willing to stand up against the evils of the world. More than teaching us about our mistakes, the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us of God’s mercy and love.
Today is only the beginning of a powerful week of remembering this mercy and love of our God. Tomorrow, Monday, the priests of the Archdiocese will gather at the Cathedral to renew their priesthood and share in the blessing of the Holy Oils at the Chrism Mass. This will be the first time our new Archbishop, Jose Gomez, will unite with the priests of Los Angeles for this celebration.
As many of you know, Br. Simon-Hoa Phan, OSB, has been in residence with us during his sabbatical from St. John’s University in Collegeville. He has agreed to lead us on Tuesday evening following the 5:15 Mass and Thursday morning at 8:00 A.M. in the
Liturgy of the Hours as recited at their Monastery. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share in the monastic prayer here at Mary Star during this most Holy Week.
On Thursday we begin the Holy Triduum. These are the most beautiful, powerful liturgical celebrations of the year. The only Mass celebrated on this day is the Mass of the Lord Supper at 7:00 P.M. We remember the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the washing of the disciples’ feet, and the prayers of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Mass does not officially end on Thursday, there is no final blessing; we will proceed to the hall where the Blessed Sacrament will remain until Midnight. Then, as we remember that Jesus was betrayed and taken from us, the Sacrament will be removed and the Church will be stripped bare until the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter vigil.
The second part of the Holy Triduum, which we will be celebrating at noon and 7:00 P.M., begins with a solemn procession and the reading of the Passion According to John, the veneration of the cross, and reception of the Eucharist. The collection on this day goes to support the Church in the Holy Land which is especially suffering due to the strife in this region. At 2 P.M we have the very powerful prayer of the seven last words along with the music of Augustino Castagnola and our Choir. If you are not able to come to church I would strongly encourage you to keep holy the hours of the passion, noon to 3:00 P.M. If you are working, maybe you can fast for lunch and spend the hour reading the passion. I would encourage parents to take their children out of school during these hours and maintain a spirit of reverence if you are not attending a liturgical celebration.
Finally, on Saturday evening we will be celebrating the Easter Vigil. This is the most beautiful Mass of the year. Again this year Bishop Alexander Salazar will be our principal celebrant. The procession will begin outside the Church; we will invite people to join us outside around the fire for the blessing of Easter Candle. We will enter the Church with the “Light of Christ”, listen to the history of salvation through the Holy Scriptures, welcome the new members of our faith into the Church through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist and celebrate our Christian joy through the Resurrection of Christ.
Please come and join us as we celebrate these central mysteries of our faith. Times for all of the celebrations are in the bulletin.
Rev John F. Provenza