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This Sunday's Programme

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Sunday of Palms and Passion C

Sunday 10th April 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 19:28-40

When Jesus had finished teaching, he went ahead, ascending to Jerusalem. As he drew close to Bethpage and Bethany near the place called the Mount of Olives, he despatched two of his disciples saying, “Go down to the village facing you and as you go in you will find a colt that hasn’t been broken in, no-one has yet ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone questions you, asking, ‘Why are you untying that?’ just say, ‘The Master needs it.’” They went off and it all happened just as he had said. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Hey, why are you untying that colt?” And they said, “The Master needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and tossed their clothes over its back and helped Jesus up on it. As he went, they threw their clothes on the road. As he drew close, just where it starts to descend at the Mount of Olives, all the disciples, all of them together praised God with loud joyful cries for all the marvellous things they had seen, saying,

“Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” But he answered, “Listen, I am telling you, if they were silent the very stones would cry out!”

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 21:8-9, 17-20, 23-24

All who see me laugh derisively,
curling their lips, shaking their heads.
‘He trusted in God to save him.
Well, let God do that since he delights in him.’

Dogs surround me,
a crowd of the wicked hem me in.
They pierce my hands and my feet.
I can feel every one of my bones.

They stare at me and gloat.
They share my clothes among them,
casting lots for my coat.
Oh God, do not desert me,
my strength, hurry to help me!

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
praising you in the midst of the crowds.
All you who fear God, praise him.
Descendants of Jacob, glorify him,
descendants of Israel, revere him.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, as we enter into the Passion to journey with Christ through his suffering and death, open us up to the people around us who are suffering. Let the compassion of Christ shine through us that our world might be radiant with his saving love. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

The Passion Narratives of the four Gospels are remarkably similar. Even John’s Gospel which differs in so many ways from the Synoptics aligns quite well with them. Yet there are subtle differences between each of these Passion Narratives that reveal the understanding of each author. Like John, Luke gives us a portrait of Jesus as a man very much in control. From his orders for the colt for his entry into Jerusalem, to his prayer in the Garden, to his look of love to Peter after his three-time betrayal, to his words of comfort to the women of Jerusalem, to his prayer to the Father in the cross, to his forgiveness of the thief, to, finally, his handing over of his spirit to his Father, this Jesus calmly accepts his terrible suffering and death. The one who had set his face towards Jerusalem, after his Transfiguration, sees through to the end the will of the Father, not matter what the terrible cost.

Luke also adds to his version people who we do not met in the other Passion narratives – common people, ordinary people, people that we can hope to emulate like, notably, the women who met Jesus as he carried his cross, weeping for his fate; Simon of Cyrene who was called to help Jesus, whom we presume he did not know; and finally the Good Thief, who gave us that most poignant proclamation of belief in Jesus in all the Passion Narratives. In Jesus, dying like him a horrific death, he saw the true Saviour and believed in him. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd ever seeking the lost. Now in his Passion narrative, Luke gives us figures to inspire us to enter into this Passion in our own lives, by consoling and helping others but most of all by believing in Jesus as Saviour no matter what our circumstances.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

When you do the communal reading of the Luke’s Passion Narrative, how do you feel when you cry out ‘Crucify him, crucify him!”? Uncomfortable: good. Embarrassed: better. Guilty: best. Our reading of the narrative is not to recall or re-enact what happened nearly 2,000 years ago but to enter into the reality of happened then that the drama of salvation become a reality in our lives now. The Passion according to Luke offers us so many different entry points: many different people acting in differing ways and, in at least some, we can see our own behaviours mirrored. We see confusion, foolishness, indifference, cowardness, cruelty, fraud, deceit. But it is not all bad; we also see courage and compassion, humility and repentance. Interestingly, it is the most innocent – the women of Jerusalem and Simon of Cyrene – who suffer most with Jesus. As we hear the reading let us again ask ourselves where are we mirrored? Are we with like: the disciples disputing over who is the greatest,
Peter, overcocky, humbled by the cockcrow, receiving the look of love from Jesus after his betrayal and weeping for sheer grief,
the disciples sleeping while Jesus prayed alone,
Judas offering a betrayer’s kiss,
the disciples lashing out,
the chief priest sneaking to catch out Jesus,
the guards ridiculing with violence,
Pilate squirming at having to defend an innocent person,
Herod wanting displays of power to amuse him,
the crowd demanding the death of an innocent,
the soldiers torturing,
Simon of Cyrene helping,
the women of Jerusalem weeping in sympathy,
the soldiers crucifying
the leaders and people jeering,
the criminal jeering,
the other criminal defending Jesus and asking to be with him in Paradise,
the centurion recognising the goodness of Jesus,
Joseph and the women caring for Jesus body,
the crowd returning from the crucifixion – repenting.

How are we to recognise if we treat Jesus in any of these differing ways? How do we treat the least in our midst?

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

‘Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing!’ This prayer, the first words of Jesus on the cross in the Gospel of Luke, well expresses the mind and heart of Jesus in this Gospel. This is the Gospel of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Coin, the Good Shepherd. Throughout Luke’s Passion Narrative, we see the actions of the Good Shepherd ever seeking his lost ones: in his healing touch on the servant of the High Priest, in his look across the courtyard to Peter after his denials – a look that does not condemn but invites in love, in the words to the women of Jerusalem, in receiving the help of Simon of Cyrene and then as he is lifted up on the Cross and the wave of agony passes over him, he prays – not for himself but for those tormenting him…and he prays for us, each and every one of us. We, too, are swept up into this prayer for sinners. When we recognise ourselves as sinners, as betrayers, liars, cowards, angry, criminal, in any of the mad variety of ways in which we can sin, we can discover ourselves receiving the power of his prayer. In the force of that prayer, we can be like the dying thief, admitting our sin, begging to be with him in Paradise and receiving the assurance that it will be so – a lost one, sought, saved and loved. Nothing we can do is outside the ambit of that forgiving love.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

There are so many representations of the Passion of Christ available. Here are listed some from various non-European countries.

Movies

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on the people around you who may be in pain, broken or suffering. Notice how you react to them in their neediness. Ask Jesus how his love could shine through you.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

Imagine yourself in the place of the Good Thief. As you are there present in your suffering, recognising the sin and failure of your life, hear him say to you, ‘This day you will be with me in my paradise.’ Take these words to heart and consider how they would change your life.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • Hail, Redeemer, King Divine by Patrick Brennan
  • Take up your cross by William Charles Everest.
  • Unless a Grain of Wheat by Bernadette Farrell
  • When I survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts