Project Description

Passion Sunday C
Isaiah 50:4-7 / Philippians 2:6-11 /Luke 22:14-23:56

There’s great paradox—
there’s a great puzzle
embedded into today’s Liturgy.

Take, for example, what we call today’s liturgy—

We call it Palm Sunday—
we call it Passion Sunday.

The Palms of celebration—
The Passion of a Crucifixion.

That’s a paradox.

The mass begins with the procession—
and we sing in great adoration “Hosanna in the highest” as
Jesus makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem—
as a King—
as a King!!!

And then we just read what happened at Jesus’ trial—
and we join the crowd in determining Jesus’ fate—
“Crucify Him,” “Crucify Him.”—
a reviled enemy of the Government and the people.

That’s a paradox.

We raise and swing our palms in joyful celebration.

But the palms are only part of the story—
there’s also those thorns—
the crown of thorns.

And there’s also the reeds used to mock and
make fun of Jesus

That’s a paradox.

We sing “Glory to God in the Highest”. . . .

And with the Psalm we sing—
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

Another paradox.

Our liturgy begins with Jesus as an adored King—
And the passion reading ends with Jesus
as a despised convict—
a detested crook.

And even in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians—
The second reading—
We hear He that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bend—

And that Jesus emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave.


So many paradoxes in today’s liturgy. . . .

Triumph and tragedy—
Adoration and abandonment—
Support and Stabbed in the back—
Loved and Killed—
Celebratory and Sad—
Glory and shame.

What a strange liturgy today—
Palm Sunday.

What a strange liturgy—
Passion Sunday.

What’s going on?

Did some drunk and confused and crazy
liturgist put all of this together.

Or is there a solution?

Is some great mystery implanted in this liturgy
that is the heart and soul of Christianity?

Yes there is.

You see there is not such a sharp dividing line
between Lent and Easter as we think.

Lent is not the dying of Christ—
And Easter the rising of Christ.

You see Jesus has already died and risen.

You see Lent gets it meaning from Easter.

Lent can’t be separated from Easter.

All liturgy gets its meaning from Easter.

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
gets its meaning for Easter.

In all liturgies we celebrate the paschal mystery—
the pascal mystery—
the inseparable link between the dying and rising of Jesus—

That ultimate paradox—
That ultimate mystery of the Christian faith.

It is in dying that we rise
Because we participate in His dying and Rising.

So it’s not Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday—
It’s Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.

It is both Triumph and tragedy—

Both Triumph and Tragedy—
Both Adoration and Abandonment—
Both Support and Stabbed in the back—
Both Loved and Killed—
Both Celebratory and Sad—
Both Glory and shame.

It’s both every knee shall bend AND
he emptied himself taking the form of a slave.

Both Dying and Rising.

And as we move into Holy Week—
we delve deeper and deeper and deeper into this mystery—

Into this great paradox of the Christian faith—
The dying and rising of Jesus Christ.

But this not just some liturgy lesson.

No, liturgy goes deep.

Because how we worship—
is how we pray.

Because how we worship—
is how we are to live.

And for Christians,
to live is to share in the dying and rising with Christ.

We will rise by dying.

Dying to what?

What do we die too?

We die to sin and we die to self.

And dying to sin is not just a mere avoidance of evil.

No, dying to sin is also a turning to Christ.

A conversion of life—
A constant conversion.

Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back—

But always a moving toward Christ.

And what does dying to self, mean?

It can mean a lot of things.

But in this instance—
I’m talking about a letting go.

A letting go of whatever in our past
prevents us from that moving toward Christ.

Letting go and dying—

To old wounds—
To old sins—
To old and harmful habits—
To old ways of thinking—
To old unproductive attitudes—
To resentments—

To manipulations—
To selfishness—
To greed—
To the bad things that happened in
the past that we can’t move past—
Whatever it is.

Not a forgetting, we are human after all—
But a letting go—
of surrendering it Christ.

That’s what I mean to dying to self—

And it’s the risen Christ who gives us the
grace to let Go—
to become a new creation—
a new creation like we were created to be.

I must decrease—
So He can increase.

So, stay close to Jesus.

Stay close to his dying—
So we will rise with Him.

They are inseparable—
Dying and Rising.

So many paradoxes in today’s liturgy. . . .

Triumph and tragedy—
Adoration and abandonment—
Support and Stabbed in the back—
Loved and Killed—
Celebratory and Sad—
Glory and shame.

It’s Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.

It’s the great mystery—
The great paradox of Christianity.

It’s the pascal mystery—
It’s the dying and rising with Christ.

Holy Spirit 04/13-14/2019

Concept from Walter Burghardt, SJ