((Readings: Procession: Mt 21:1-11; 1st: Is 50:4-7; Ps 21; 2nd: Phil 2:6-11; Gos: Mt 26:14-27:66))

There is an interesting story about the donkey that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday.  The donkey thought that the reception was organized to honor him. “I am a unique donkey,” this excited animal might have thought.   When he asked his mother if he could walk down the same street alone the next day and be honored again, his mother said, “No, you are nothing without Him who was riding you.”  

Five days later, the donkey saw a huge crowd of people in the street.  It was Good Friday, and the soldiers were taking Jesus to Calvary.  The donkey could not resist the temptation of another royal reception. Ignoring the warning of his mother, he ran to the street, but he had to flee for his life as soldiers chased him and people stoned him.  Thus, the donkey finally learns the lesson that he was only a poor donkey without Jesus to ride on him. 

Today is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion which marks the beginning of the Holy Week. The first part of today’s gospel describes the royal reception, that Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem.  Jesus permitted such a royal procession to reveal to the general public that he was the promised Messiah; and secondly to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9) and Zephaniah (3: 16-19): “Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion…. see now your king comes to you; he is victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey…” (Zech. 9:9). Jesus is given a warm and kingly welcome into the city where he is going to express His deepest act of love.

 In the second part of today’s gospel, we listen to the Passion of Christ according to Matthew.  We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience, Herod who ridiculed Jesus and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.

During this Sunday we have 3 important lessons to learn:

1). THE PEOPLE WHO SING YOUR PRAISES ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKELY GOING TO CRUCIFY YOU. The same people applauding Christ by singing: “Hosanna to the son of David” are the same people shouting: “Crucify him!” It is easier to live with your enemies because their plans will never find you by surprise. On the other hand, when your closest friends betray you, it is difficult for you to accept or come to terms with it. Ps 55:10-14 “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend”.

The trusted friends of Jesus failed him at the last minute: Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, the disciples run away, and the crowd suddenly turned against him. This also reminds us about the two natures of our Christian life and journey. We are celebrated today and persecuted tomorrow. Today we are loved, while the next day, we are hated. Today we are praised and castigated the next day. Only Jesus remained faithful to us by carrying our sins to the cross.

(2) WELCOMING JESUS IN YOUR HEART.  Today, we receive the blessed palm branches. Let us take them to our homes and place them somewhere we can always see them remind us that Christ is the king of our families, and our hearts, and is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives. Let us prioritize and place Christ the king as the primary concern in our lives.  During this Holy week, let us have an active and conscious participation in all the liturgies. Let us make the sacrament of reconciliation our priority.

(3) CARRYING JESUS TO THE WORLD.  Like the donkey, we are called upon to carry Christ to a world that does not know Him.  The story above is a challenge whether we witness Christ in our life or we are Christians only by name. If people hail you today remember that it is not because of who you are but because of your position. It is because of what you are carrying or providing for them. If you are no longer in that position, you should expect the treatment of the donkey when it walked to the city alone. Never think that you are too necessary and indispensable, rather be humble because deprived of your position, you are Mr and Mrs nobody.

As we “carry Jesus” to the world, we should expect to receive the same welcome, honor, and praises that Jesus received on Palm Sunday, but we must also expect to meet the same opposition, crosses, and trials. Hence let us become transparent Christians during this Holy Week, enabling others to see Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial service.

Finally, the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of Divine invitation to each one of us to receive his forgiveness, mercy, love, and ultimately redemption in the sacraments. Are you ready to receive him? During this Mass let us pray for the grace to be His faithful friends at all times!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, graciously grant that I may not betray or crucify you nor offend you again with my sins. Amen

Fr. Antony Muchui, SVD

 HAVE A BLESSED HOLY WEEK ((Contact our vocation office on +255629269140 or +254792299140))

“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the word and the spirit of Grace; and may the heart of Jesus live in the heart of all the people. Amen” SVD Prayer

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