Sunday Readings April/May/June 2020

Robert Draper

In Evangelii gaudium Pope Francis wrote: ‘It is indispensable that the word of God “be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity”. God’s word, listened to and celebrated, above all in the Eucharist, nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life.’ The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next three months are offered to help readers and listeners to reflect on the selected passages, so as to been drawn ever more closely to the source of that nourishment and so to offer an authentic witness. This period of the Church’s liturgy covers the great season of Easter and the feasts of the Church that follow, and the readings for the Sunday Eucharist offer a rich source for reflection on the central Christian beliefs. The author is a parish priest in Dorset.

Sunday 5 April
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Matthew 21.1–11
Isaiah 50.4–7
Psalm 21
Philippians 2.6–11
Matthew 26.14–27.66

The structure of the Liturgy today has a particular significance for those taking part. The people are invited to hear the account of the entry into Jerusalem of the Lord, and their palms and the singing in the procession encourage them to identify with the crowds who welcomed Jesus. However, the Gospel of the Passion – which both the Missal and the Lectionary envisage the people as participants – finds them identified as the crowd who shout not ‘Hosanna’ but ‘crucify him!’ The constitution on the Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council emphasised the conscious participation of the lay faithful in the Liturgy of the Church – this is a specific example where those gathered are reminded that they are not passive onlookers but are caught up in the very Mysteries they celebrate. This year in Matthew’s Gospel the opportunity to contemplate our involvement is particularly striking. We can note Matthew’s sense of drama (the reluctance of Pilate and the hostility of the crowd, and the powerful account of the events accompanying the moment of death) and also the striking language, elements of which (thirty pieces of silver, washing his hands) have carried over into secular language, so powerful is their resonance.

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