daily-readings

Sunday Readings, April 5, 2020

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD.
Vestment: Red
Today’s Rosary: The Glorious Mysteries
HOLY WEEK

The theme of the Sunday: Jesus Gives up His Life. The evangelists do not report the passion and death of Jesus to play on our emotions. They show us Christ who gave up his life for the love of all people. The first reading tells us what happens to those who are faithful to this mission God has entrusted to them. The Gospel presents us with the only one who has fully realized in himself the image of a servant. The second reading describes the journey of this servant from the glory of the Father to the humiliation of the death on the cross, to the glorification of his resurrection. This is the path proposed to every person. The whole group of believers was united heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common (Acts 4:32).

At the procession with Palm.

GOSPEL READING

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 21: 1 – 11)

When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

After the Gospel, a brief homily may be given. Then, to begin the Procession, an invitation may be given by a Priest or a Deacon or a lay minister, in these or similar words:

At the Mass

After the Procession or Solemn Entrance, the Priest begins the Mass with the Collect

Collect

Almighty everlasting God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Saviour to take flesh and submit to the cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you…

FIRST READING

“Hid not my face from shame, and I know I shall not be put to shame.” Third song of the Servant of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 50:4-7)

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

The word of the Lord.

 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM  Ps 22:8-9.17-18a.19-20.23-24 (R. 2a)
R/. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me;
they curl their lips, they toss their heads:
“He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him, for in him he delights.” R/.

For dogs have surrounded me;
a band of the wicked besets me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet;
I can count every one of my bones. R/.

They divide my clothing among them,
they cast lots for my robe.
But you, O Lord, do not stay afar off;
my strength, make haste to help me! R/.

I will tell of your name to my kin,
and praise you in the midst of the assembly;
“You who fear the Lord, give him praise;
all descendants of Jacob, give him glory;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel.” R/.

SECOND READING

“He humbled himself, and God has highly exalted him ”

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:6-11)

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The word of the Lord.

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL

Philippians 2:8b-9
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Christ became obedient for us unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him: and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

The narrative of the Lord’s Passion is read without candles and without incense, with no greeting or signing of the book

N: Narrator
C: Christ
S: Speaker other than Christ


N. At that time: One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,

S. “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?”

N. And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying,

S. “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

N. He said,

C. “Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’

N. And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said,

C. “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

N. And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another,

S. “Is it I, Lord?”

N. He answered,

C. “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me.
The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

N. Judas, who betrayed him, said,

S. “Is it I, Master?”

N. He said to him,

C. “You have said so.”

N. Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said,

C. “Take, eat; this is my body.”

N. And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying,

C. “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

N. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,

C. “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

N. Peter declared to him,

S. “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never   fall away.”

N. Jesus said to him,

C. “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

N. Peter said to him,

S. “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

N. And so said all the disciples.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples,

C. “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

N. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them,

C. “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

N. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed,

C. “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

N. And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter,

C. “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

N. Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed,

C. “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

N. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,

C. “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

N. While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the Twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,

S.  “The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.”

N. And he came up to Jesus at once and said,

S. “Hail, Master!”

N. And he kissed him. Jesus said to him,

C. “Friend, why are you here?”

N. Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,

S. “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

N. At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,

C. “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

N. Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.  Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,

S. “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”’

N.  And the high priest stood up and said,

S. “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”

N. But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him,

S. “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

N. Jesus said to him,

C. “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

N. Then the high priest tore his robes, and said,

S. “He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?”

N. They answered,

S. “He deserves death.”

N. Then they spat in his face and struck him, and some slapped him,. saying,

S. “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

N. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said,

S. “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

N. But he denied it before them all, saying,

S. “I do not know what you mean.”

N. And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders,

S. “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

N. And again he denied it with an oath,

S. “I do not know, the man.”

N. After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

S. “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

N. Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear,

S. “I do not know the man.”

N. And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor. When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying,
S. “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”

N. They Said

S. “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

N. And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said,

S. “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury since they are blood money.”

N. So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
*Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him,
S. “Are you the King of the Jews?”

N. Jesus said to him,

C. “You have said so.”

N. But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him,

S. “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?”

N.  But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them,

S. “Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?”

N. For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream.”  Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy “Jesus.’ The governor again said to them,

S. “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”

N.  And they said,

S. “Barabbas.”

N.  Pilate said to them,

S. “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

N.   They all said,

S.   “Let him be crucified.”

N.  And he said,

S.  “Why, what evil has he done?”

N. But they shouted all the more,

S. “Let him be crucified.”

N.  So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,

S. “I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it your- selves.”

N. And all the people answered,

S. “His blood be on us and on our children!”

N. Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying,

S. “Hail, King of the Jews!”

N. And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. As they were marching out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying,
S. You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

N. So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying

S. “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.”’

N.  And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice,

C. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”

N.   that is

C. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

N.   And some of the bystanders hearing it said,

S.   “This man is calling Elijah.”

N. And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,

S.  “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

N. And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

All kneel and pause for a moment.

N. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said,

S.  “Truly this was the Son of God!”

N. There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,

S. “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”

N. Pilate said to them,

S. “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

N. So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

After the narrative of the Passion, a brief homily should take place, if appropriate. A period of silence may also be observed.

PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

The Lord who forgives.

PRIEST:
In these days of Holy Week when Christ prayed and entreated his Father in the anguish of his passion, let us pray to the Lord not trusting in our own good deeds but in his power to save us.

READER:
For the Church (pause) may she be one with her Lord, who gave his life in loving surrender to his Father, so that those who believe in him might live the new life of grace.
Lord, hear our prayer; and strengthen our belief we pray Oh Lord.

For the world in which we live, (pause) may all the world receive from God true life and abiding peace, through the redeeming blood of Christ, who died for all.
Lord, hear our prayer; and strengthen our belief we pray Oh Lord.

For the sick and suffering, (pause) May they unite their illness and pain with the sufferings of Christ in his passion for the salvation of the world.
Lord, hear our prayer; and strengthen our belief we pray Oh Lord.

For believers and unbelievers everywhere, (pause) through the mystery of God’s providence, may they share in the fruits of Christ’s passion, which will bring them to the glory of rising again.
Lord, hear our prayer; and strengthen our belief we pray Oh Lord.

We pray to God in silence for our many needs.

PRIEST: Father, we confess our guilt before you, but your compassion for us fills us with hope and a new purpose in life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today’s Reflection

“The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. I gave my back to the smites, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:5-6.

The best way to read the Bible and indeed the only way to read the Bible is to read ourselves into it, putting ourselves in the shoes of the characters within the Biblical stories thereby making the Bible become our examination of conscience. When we try to place ourselves in the characters of today’s Passion Narrative, we cannot but see how real the story becomes and how it contains so many lessons for us even today.

Our people say that it is the rat inside the house that goes to inform other rats outside that there is food in the house. The enemy outside cannot succeed without the permission or cooperation of the enemy inside. Again, in pidgin, there is the saying: “na who know man, nai dey kill am.” All these boils down to the person of Judas Iscariot. But wait, before you begin to judge him, why not ask: “Haven’t I betrayed my close friends in the past?” “Don’t I sit down to gossip about people very close to me using the secrets I know about them against them?”

Our people also say: “Money talks, bullshit walks.” What was Judas’ motivation for selling Jesus? Money. The love of money is no doubt the root of all evils. 1st Timothy 6:10. Money by itself is good but the love of money is very bad. The greatest commandment and indeed the summary of all the commandments is to Love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Mark 12:30-31. Our love for money should never be greater than our love for God and neighbor otherwise we would do worse than Judas Iscariot.

Always remember that on the day of your birth, you brought nothing to this world and the day you die, you would take nothing with you. Let this thought never leave your heart. All your efforts to grab, accumulate and possess which sometimes leads you to fight others, keep malice, insult or keep enemies are useless because, in the end, you will have to watch and see how every dime you have will go away. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. How much of that money did he spend?

Learn from the woman who anointed Jesus with a very expensive ointment. She represents those who give their very best to God; choristers who sing for free every Sunday not minding the huge sacrifices they make to practice; men and women who give themselves to the work of God serving in various capacities, contributing their quota for the church to grow and so on. Of course, they never find it easy, like this woman, you will be ridiculed for wasting, insulted and called names but don’t stop because nothing shall go with you on the day you die.

Jesus gave us his very body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. This was the height of his generosity. Why am I so stingy with things that I didn’t even bring to this world in the first place? If after reading today’s Passion Narrative, I still find it difficult to give and share with the poor, it means something is wrong with me. Jesus not only gave, but he also taught us how to live. Because he gave up himself, he would have every ground to judge us at the end of our lives for refusing to give. “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Matthew 25:41-43.

Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray but instead, they started sleeping. How deep and serious is my prayer life? Am I able to watch for one hour with Jesus every day? By the way see how Jesus prayed: “Abba Father … remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Mark 14:36. Doesn’t this teach me how to pray? Why do I try to command God in my prayer? Wouldn’t it be nice if I add this clause whenever I make a request of God; to do not as I will but as He wills instead?

When our prayer life is weak, we cannot withstand the enemy. Like the disciples who ran away at the arrest of Jesus, we flee from the devil out of fear. We become so scared that we even deny Jesus like Peter who denied Jesus after boasting. This week is called holy. Use this week to the fullest that it may become for you a call to deeper prayer life. The richer our prayer life becomes, the more we live above sin, above evil and above fear.

Pilate knew Jesus was innocent “for he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” Mark 15:10. But just like you and me, he was more afraid of the crowd than the truth. He acted against his conscience to please the crowd and to secure his job. If I was Pilate, what would I have done differently?

In conclusion, the Passion Narrative teaches us a lot about ourselves. The bitter truth is humanity has not changed at all since the time of Jesus. We are still ruled by money, we still betray one another, we are still stingy, we do not pray well, and we often act to please the crowd, in short, we are often crowd people, we do things not because it is right but because everyone is doing it. Like I once noted, if Jesus were to come back again as man, we would still kill him again. Do not repeat history. Change today. Become a better person.

Jesus’s death was not like any other death. He was a good man and He was killed. He healed their diseases and raised the dead and He was killed. He gave them food to eat and He was killed. He taught them the truth and the path to righteousness and life and He was killed.