This Week's Liturgy
March 20th, 2016 (see other dates)
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Discussion Questions for Reading 1
This 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 ReflectionAlthough the writer probably had Israel itself in mind, his inspired verses in this first reading give us a perfect Holy Week portrait of Christ. The Son of God has been prepared and sent by God to "rouse" the people. When his teaching stirs up opposition, he does not fight back or run away. He does not give in or give up. No matter what happens to him, Jesus anchors himself in God and continues to trust.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2One test of a good leader is that he or she never asks a follower or "an underling" to do what he or she would not be able or willing to do. How does this apply to Jesus as our leader, as the one who leads us through life to God? Death is part of our human condition. What if Jesus had said, "No thank you, Father, I'll skip this part?"
Death on a cross was the worst death possible at the time of Jesus. It was the death of a criminal. Why do you think Jesus accepted this kind of death?
We must always remember that death is not the end. STAND and read together triumphantly the words of this reading that begin at verse 9, "Because of this . . ." Then KNEEL at verse 10, "That at the name. . ." STAND at verse 11, "And every tongue," to the end.
Reading 2 Philippians 2:6-11
Reading 2 ReflectionPaul's hymn of praise gives us another Holy Week portrait of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Freely, Jesus chose to "bring himself down" to our human condition. Freely, he humbled himself to suffer persecution and death on a cross. Freely, he gave his life in one long and glorious prayer of obedience to God.
Discussion Questions for GospelOver the years, the "good thief" (we do not really know whether he was a thief or not, but he is traditionally called a thief) has been given the name Dismas. He has been considered a saint, and is the patron of prisoners and those who help people who are in jail. "To visit the imprisoned" is a work of mercy Jesus asked of his followers. (See Matthew 25:31-46.)
According to this passage from the Gospel of Luke, the only people around Jesus who recognized him in any way were this criminal (who accepts responsibility for what he did and asks Jesus only to "remember him") and the centurion who, after Jesus? death, glorified God and said, "This man was innocent."
Jesus' friends and acquaintances "stood at a distance." Sometimes, when we go through hard times, our friends and acquaintances also keep their distance! However, Jesus was not left alone. The thief and the centurion, who had never met him before, were there with him. They believed in him. Sometimes encouragement comes from people we least expect. We are not left alone. Have you had this experience?
Gospel Luke 22:14--23:56
Gospel ReflectionToday is called both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. Since the early centuries of the Church, Christians have carried palm branches in joyful processions on this day. We sing or shout, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" like the crowd that followed Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of what we now call Holy Week. This year we hear the passion account from Luke's Gospel. It tells a moving story of Jesus, who consoles the "good criminal" and forgives those who nailed him to the cross.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
A Palm Sunday Procession
You may want to give your group the opportunity to have a Palm Sunday procession. Using green oak tag or construction paper, cut a large leaf out for each child. Or, use real branches (perhaps snips from evergreens or spring branches). Tell the children that this is the day that the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into their city and sang, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
Listen to or sing favorite songs or hymns as the children process around the room. Stop the procession at the prayer table. Invite the children to share a sign of peace with one another. Then pray these or similar words: "Lord Jesus, we welcome you into our hearts today. Help us to welcome one another and share peace with one another as we walk with you this week. We ask this in your name, Lord Jesus. Amen."
Oh When Christ Jesus Comes Riding InTeach the following song to the children. Sing this song when acting out the story of Palm Sunday and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
To the tune of Oh When the Saints Go Marching In
Oh when Christ Jesus comes riding in.
Oh when Christ Jesus comes riding in.
We will wave our palms and praise him.
When Christ Jesus comes riding in.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Creating a Cross PrayerPaul writes that our attitude must be the same as Christ's. We must forgive our enemies and entrust our lives into God's hands, especially when we feel most alone or in trouble. Draw the outline of a cross below or on a separate sheet of paper. Inside the arms of the cross, write your own prayer. Focus on the words of Jesus and on your own need to forgive and trust.
Jesus, you trust in God's love for you even on the cross. Help me to trust in times of trouble.
Friends in NeedThere is an old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." This means that a true friend will be a friend to me, not only when times are good, but also, and especially, when I am in need. Friends who are friends only when everything is "smooth sailing" and are nowhere to be found when troubled and stormy times come are called "fair weather friends."
According to this Gospel passage, Jesus was abandoned and left alone by his friends when he was dying on the cross. However, after his resurrection, his first words to his friends were, "Peace be to you." He understood their weakness and forgave them. He gave them the freedom to start over.
Am I a true friend or a "fair weather friend" to others? Make a list of the qualities of a true friend below. Ask Jesus to help you be a true friend to others. The first line has been started for you.
A true friend. . .
wants what is good for my friend and not just what is good for me.
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