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Peggy Stanton’s notes for Palm Sunday



MARK: 11: 1-10..


Paragraph 559…

How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of his “father, David“. Acclaimed as “son of David”, as the one who brings salvation,(“Hosanna” means “Save” or  “Give salvation”),the “king of glory” enters his City, “riding on an ass.” Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse, nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth and so the subjects of his kingdom on that day, are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him, as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.  Their acclamation, “Blessed be he, who comes in the name of the Lord,” is taken up by the church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.


JOHN 12: 12-16…

Paragraph 557….”


“When the days  drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” By this decision, he indicated that he was going up to Jerusalem, prepared to die there. Three times he had announced his Passion and Resurrection; now, heading toward Jerusalem, Jesus says: “it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”


Didache Bible’s Commentary


on Mark’s Gospel…


Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding on an ass and receiving a royal welcome fulfilled the prophet Zechariah’s prediction in the Old Testament, “ Behold, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble, and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey” Zachariah (9:9)


(Such irony…Jesus receiving the royal tribute of triumph, knowing it was actually his journey to crucifixion.)


On John’s Gospel… Christ’s renown had spread widely with the news of Lazarus, coming back to life, and so the crowds in Jerusalem awaited him excitedly. Their chant as he entered Jerusalem indicated their belief that he was the Messiah, the King of Israel. Jesus knew well that he was going to Jerusalem in order to die. Hosanna means literally “Save us” . It was commonly sung at Jewish feasts.The prophecy of Zechariah (9: 9) cited here,  describes a king who comes in peace riding on an ordinary donkey, rather than a political or military leader, riding on a majestic horse. “Then they remembered,” an indication of the Holy Spirit at work among the Apostles after his descent upon them at Pentecost. The Apostles,  his disciples, did not understand this at first, but when Jesus was glorified, “then they remembered” that this had been written of him, and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. The Pharisees then said to one another, “you see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.”


Those are the reflections on Palm Sunday itself, but during Palm Sunday Mass, we have our first reading of Our Lord’s Passion upon which Monsignor Charles Pope based his reflection:




Monsignor Pope emphasizes the fact that Jesus tried to prepare his Apostles for his Crucifixion and most importantly for his Resurrection….his ultimate victory.  But they didn’t “get it”. Frankly,  neither do we, sometimes, 2000 years later.


The Monsignor writes, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life (Matt 16:2)

The Apostles’ perception is partial. They will see only the negative, forgetting that Jesus has promised to rise. Because they cannot see beyond the apparent defeat of the moment they will retreat into fear rather than boldly and confidently accompanying Him to His passion and glorification (for His passion is a lifting up; it is His glorification). Instead they will flee. He has shown the “what the end shall be,” but they can neither see nor accept it. Thus fear overwhelms them and they withdraw into a sinful fear, dissociating themselves from Jesus. Only a few (Mary, His Mother; John; Mary Magdalene stay the course.)

As for the rest, they see only what is gory and awful, missing what is glory and awesome. Their perception is quite partial. Paradoxically, their blindness comes from not hearing or listening to what Jesus has been telling them all along.

….They become drowsy – A common human technique for dealing with stress and the hardships of life is to become numb and drowsy; we can just drift off into a sort of moral slumber. Being vigilant against the threat posed to our souls by sin or the harm caused by injustice (whether to ourselves or to others) is  too stressful, so we just “tune out.” We stop noticing or really even caring about critically important matters. We anesthetize ourselves with things like alcohol, drugs, creature comforts, and meaningless distractions. Prayer and spirituality pose too many uncomfortable questions, so we just daydream about meaningless things like what a certain Hollywood star is doing or how the latest sporting event is going.


In the Passion accounts, the Lord asks Peter, James, and John to pray with Him. But they doze off. Perhaps it is the wine. Surely it is the flesh (for the Lord speaks of it). Unwilling or unable to deal with the stress of the situation, they get drowsy and doze off. Grave evil is at the very door, but they sleep. The Lord warns them to stay awake, lest they give way to temptation, but still they sleep. Someone they know and love is in grave danger, but it is too much for them to handle. They tune out, much as we do in the face of the overwhelming suffering of Christ visible in the poor and needy. We just stop noticing; it’s too painful, so we tune out.


. They seek to destroy – When Peter finally awakens, he lashes out with a sword and wounds Malchus, the servant of the high priest. The Lord rebukes Peter and reminds him of the vision: Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11) Jesus then heals Malchus, who tradition says, later became a follower. In our fear, we, too, can often lash out and even seek to destroy our opponents.

But if we are already certain of our victory, as the Lord has promised, why do we fear? Why do we need to suppress our opponents and enemies ruthlessly? It is one thing to speak the truth in love, boldly and confidently. But it is quite another to lash out aggressively and seek to win a debate. In so doing, we may lose a soul.

. They deny – Confronted with the fearful prospect of being condemned along with Jesus, Peter denies being one of His followers or even knowing Him at all. He dissociates himself from Christ. And we, confronted with the possibility of far milder things such as ridicule, often deny a connection with the Lord or the Church.

for instance…. .”Regarding one of the more controversial Scripture teachings (e.g., the command to tithe; the prohibition against divorce, fornication, and homosexual activity) some might ask, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” It’s very easy to give in to fear and to respond, “No,” or to qualify our belief. Why suffer ridicule, endure further questioning, or be drawn into an unpleasant debate? So we just dissociate from, compromise, or qualify our faith to avoid the stress. We even congratulate ourselves for being tolerant when we do it!

Jesus says, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels”(Mk 8:38). But too easily we are ashamed. And so, like Peter, we engage in some sort of denial….

They dodge – When Jesus is arrested, all the disciples except John “split.” They “get the heck out of Dodge.” They are nowhere to be found. After Jesus’ arrest, it is said that Peter (prior to his denials) followed the Lord at a distance (Mk 14:54). But as soon as trouble arose, he “scrammed.”

We, too, can run away. Sometimes it’s because of persecution by the world. But sometimes it’s our fear that following the Lord is too hard and involves sacrifices that we are just not willing to make. Maybe it will endanger our money (the Lord insists that we tithe and be generous to the poor). Maybe it will endanger our playboy lifestyle (the Lord insists on chastity and respect). Maybe we don’t want to stop doing something that we have no business doing, something that is unjust, excessive, or sinful. But rather than face our fears, whether they come from within or without, we just hightail it out.


  1. They deflect – (the blame) In this case our example is Pontius Pilate, not one of the disciples. Pilate was summoned to faith just like anyone else. “Are you a king?” he asks Jesus. Jesus responds by putting Pilate on trial: “Are you saying this on your own or have others been telling you about me?” Pilate has a choice to make: accept that what Jesus is saying as true, or give in to fear and commit a terrible sin of injustice. The various accounts in Scripture all make it clear that Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. But because he feared the crowds he handed Jesus over.

So, too, for us. We also often favor our career or our hide over doing what is right. And in so doing, we often blame others for what we have freely chosen. “I’m not responsible because my mother dropped me on my head when I was two.”….Besides, it’s really my boss who’s to blame. It’s this old hell-bound, sin-soaked world that’s to blame, not me!”

In Matthew’s revelation of the Resurrection, an angel at the tomb, tells Mary Magdalene and the “0ther Mary”, that Jesus has gone before them to Galilee and there they will see Him….

If we are faithful, Monsignor Pope writes,  we will see Jesus in the “Galilee of Heaven”. Never forget this vision….we will rise with Him (if we are faithful) and be reunited with Him in the Galilee of Heaven.

So take courage; see what the end shall be! The end for those who are faithful is total victory. We don’t need to drowse, destroy, deny, dodge, or deflect; we’ve already won. All we need to do is to hold out.

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