April 13th, 2014, Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Discussion Questions for Reading 1This servant of God must have been a person of prayer: "Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear." How are you a person of prayer? When are you called to "speak to the weary a word that will rouse them"? Would your friends describe you as an encouraging person, or one that is critical much of the time? (When is criticism helpful? When is it not?) As this Holy Week begins, how will you open your ear to God? How will you share his message with others?
Reading 1 Isaiah 50:4-7
Reading 1 ReflectionFor Christians, all of today's readings give us ways of looking at Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant. The Suffering Servant in Isaiah has qualities that later generations would see in Jesus. He is the one whose ear is always open to receive God's word. He is the one who does not rebel or turn back when his enemies persecute him. Jesus is the one who says, "The Lord God is my help. . . I shall not be put to shame."
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Sometimes we take the attitude that certain people or certain things are "beneath us."
Picking up our own litter is beneath us. Throwing away our own trays in fast food places is beneath us. Cleaning up after ourselves at home is beneath us. Obeying speed laws or wearing seat belts is beneath us. Saying hello and being welcoming to certain people is beneath us. Being kind and considerate to others with whom we share the planet (including plants and animals in our environment) is beneath us. Some of us don?t want to bother with all that. We think we're above it all. But Jesus shows us a different attitude. Jesus cared about things like this. How do we take on his attitude and imitate him?
Reading 2 Philippians 2:6-11
Reading 2 ReflectionPaul's noble description of Jesus Christ is really a hymn. It describes Jesus as the one who willingly gave up everything to fulfill God's plan for our salvation. Jesus did not come among us expecting to live grandly, as a king or "Numero Uno," although that is exactly what he was. Even though he was God, he came among us as the lowest of all, to show us that God's love does not depend on riches or honor. Paul tells us that this must be our attitude, too. Our love must be like God's love.
As Holy Week begins, we are invited as the disciples were to watch and pray.
How will you watch? Pray?
Discussion Questions for GospelJesus offered his entire life and his entire self to the Father, including his suffering and death. He did this voluntarily. Even though he was God, he chose "the lowest place" out of love. We, like Jesus, suffer because we are human. People still suffer, here in our own country and around the world. Can you name some of the ways and some of the reasons why people suffer today? What does Jesus want us to do about human suffering? (Think about the parable of the Good Samaritan.) Think of one way your and your group could help lessen human suffering in some way. Then do so, in the name of Jesus.
Gospel ReflectionThis gospel is a reading of the passion (or suffering) of Christ. On this Sunday we are reading it "according to Matthew." We see Jesus betrayed by two of his friends, Judas and Peter, and by the crowd. We see him mocked and beaten by the soldiers who laughingly "honor" him as King of the Jews.
Wounded, crowned with thorns, and dying a little more each step of the way, Jesus carries his cross to Calvary. His suffering is so great that he wonders if even God has left him to die alone. Still Jesus willingly gives up his spirit. With the centurion we pray: "Clearly, this was the Son of God!"