Sixth Sunday of Lent (9 April)


The Lenten Season is drawing to a close and we do well to reflect for a moment on what it has meant for us this year. I am sure we are all aware of the insights we have received during our Lenten journey, and have been challenged by the Word of God to put them into practice in our daily lives. It has truly been a time of healing and new life, calling us to an ever-deepening response of faith as we live our Dominican way of life. As a result of this, we are more prepared to accompany Jesus as he enters Jerusalem on the final stage of his redemptive mission. By following him in faith, we proclaim that in going to his death he begins his return to the Father in glory.

Palm Sunday opens the Great Week in the life of the Church – Holy Week. The whole experience of Lent is meant to lead us into an experience of the “loving kindness of the heart of our God”, as we are reminded every morning in the Benedictus canticle. Often our prayer at this time is complete silence in which the Spirit of the Living God takes over in our lives and we are invited just to be present to Jesus on his journey. We wait, we watch and we pray silently.

The focus of Palm Sunday is the procession of Jesus into Jerusalem and the Proclamation of the Passion. While we may sing and rejoice in the Procession, the actual proclamation of the Passion is heard in reverent silence.

A very precious memory of my time in the Holy Land was being part of a huge mass of people walking from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem waving palm branches. The message of the Prophet Zechariah: 9: 9 came alive for me then:

“Fear not daughter of Sion
Behold, your king is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

This prophecy was the opposite of the popular idea of what a King should be; Jesus is not one who will be served, but puts himself at the service of all.

As the Liturgy for Palm Sunday tells us: “Jesus entered into his own city in triumph to complete his work as our Messiah: to suffer, to die and to rise again. We follow Him with lively faith as with the crowds we sing, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!”

As we read in the Office of Readings of this Feast: “He is gentle and lowly and his entrance is humble. May we have the courage to spread ourselves as best we can before him, with humility of soul and upright purpose and welcome the Word as he comes.”

Sr Francis Cosgrove OP

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