OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Year C)

On Passion (Palm) Sunday the Gospel dominates the celebration, and, in a sense, its meaning is obvious. Do not allow this, however, to detract from the other read­ings, which give the vital context necessary for understanding the Passion as much more than a simple story. It is THE story of God achieving salvation by the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thus the immense depth of the Isaiah reading - a personal testimony to suffering - should open our hearts to understand more of the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
 
This is one section of a great block of readings that comes in the so-called 'Third-Isaiah', and is referred to as the "Song of the Suffering Servant". It has always been interpreted by the Church as referring to the inner attitude of the Lord Jesus in his Passion, and so is a vital reading today: it tells us the story of the person behind the events we hear in the Passion. It is the voice of the Lord in his suffering. And what is the word that he speaks? 'Obedience'. The Servant trusts completely in the Lord, who provides the words he will speak. Whatever comes, he will trust in God, because if one is faithful to God, one will know no shame. Allow this reading into your heart, so that it can find its way into others when you read it. Make it more than just' a reading before the Passion' ­it (and the Second Reading) are the very meaning of the Passion. Also remember it's a poem - take it slowly and reflec­tively. It must mark a change of mood, from the" glad hosannas" of the Lord's entry to Jerusalem, to the dark tale of his arrest, trial and death.
 
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
 
This is the great hymn of the 'self-emptying' of the Son of God. He leaves behind glory and equality with God to become a slave - even going further and accepting a terrible death. But even as we proclaim his emptying, his lonely death, we proclaim that God raised him higher than any other. The reading starts almost mourn­fully, but by the end is a triumphant hymn of victory through sacrifice. Un­derstanding this paradox is the key to this feast, which places so many oppo­sites alongside each other. Begin reading slowly and qui­etly, pausing after each short line (as printed in the Lectionary), but increase the speed and grow a little louder from "But God raised him high..." onwards. End triumphantly with "…the glory of God the Father."

From the Catechism

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