April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday - A


The  Slave Who Sets Us Free

Christ Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…. He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)

This core of the Christian faith is expressed in some of the details of the various readings selected for this celebration of Palm Sunday.

-         Jesus is the Savior who brings peace.  It is evident in the manner of his entering the city to bring to fulfillment God’s plan of salvation.  He does not come as a warrior king riding on a horse, but as a humble prince of peace, on a young donkey. 

-         He was crucified, the most undignified capital punishment. 
             (1)   In the Roman society, crucifixion was never used for a free Roman citizen, but “on the lower classes, that is, slaves, violent criminals, and political rebels.” [1]   

      (2)  In Jewish tradition, there is no crucifixion as such.  Nevertheless, hanging is for a criminal who has committed a “capital offense.”  Moreover, “who is hanged is accursed by God.”  So much so, that Moses commanded the people to remove the corpse.  Otherwise, the corpse, if it “[remains] on the tree overnight” would “defile the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage.” (Deuteronomy 21: 22-23) [2]

Yet, that is the manner of death the Son of God accepted out of obedience to the Father, and out of love for the human race.  In this way, the Son of God enables us, who are slaves to sins and death, to be free children of God forever.


[1] & [2]  Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.  The Gospel of Matthew.  Sacra Pagina Series.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 397.

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