Cardinal DiNardo shares a video reflection on Palm Sunday

April 5, 2020

Cardinal DiNardo shares a video reflection on Palm Sunday, April 5.

Brothers and sisters, peace be with you. Today is Palm Sunday. For the past few weeks, a number of our priests in the archdiocese have been giving daily meditations on the Gospel or on the spirit of the season in light of this important and difficult time in which we are living, this pandemic.

I've been asked to do Palm Sunday and I'm very gracious for the invitation to do so. Palm Sunday has two tones. The first tone is the blessing of palms and the procession with palms into church. In St. Matthew's Gospel, which we are reading this year, the people not only say Hosanna to the Son of David, they also say, "God save Him from on high," thus toying with the name of Jesus, which means indeed savior, one who saves. Yes, Jesus enters His city. He's come to do a dynamic and a very important thing. In fact, it's an apocalyptic thing. He's coming into His city to make it His own, but even further, He's coming into His city to save, to save us all.

The first part of Palm Sunday is so beautiful and joyful, but once we get into the Mass and the Liturgy of the Word, there's a dark tone to the readings, and particularly the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Matthew is deep and dark. Matthew has a portrait in words of Jesus, not a snapshot. So, you have to spend some time with it. In fact, that's my advice. Read Chapters 26 and 27 of St. Matthew's gospel for this week. You will learn plenty.

Let me just suggest one or two things. Jesus has said all the way up to Jerusalem that if you're going to follow Him, if you're going to be His disciple, you must drink the cup that He drinks. Indeed, He drinks the cup to the dregs, to the very end. Jesus gives the chalice of His blood to His disciples and then drinks it totally in His Passion and death.

Still another theme to be alert to in Matthew's Passion account is Jesus growing isolation and loneliness. Look at the scene in Gethsemane as He keeps returning to his three sleeping disciples. What a scene. In fact, friends, look at all of the characters in St. Matthew's Passion account. Matthew is very selective in his details and each personage that he chooses is important, whether it's Peter, or the other members of the 12, Pilate, the great chameleon, whoever they are. The centerpiece is Jesus and the unseen Father, whom Jesus has always spoken about.

Will the Father be faithful to His Son? In Jesus's growing isolation, even on the cross and when they make fun of Him and carry on, it looks as though is Jesus being abandoned by His Father? His final words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The first words of a beautiful psalm, Psalm 21, they seem to indicate that Jesus feels even alone and isolated from His Father. Will the Father give Jesus approval? Yes.

Read the scene of Jesus's death. He no soon breathes forth His spirit, when the veil of the temple is torn in two, and there's an earthquake. An apocalypse happens, sisters and brothers, at the death of Jesus. No longer will God's presence be felt in the holy of holiest in the temple, however beautiful it was. No, God's presence will be felt in the broken body of well beloved Son.

For us, that means we go to the cross, we are with Jesus in His brokenness, thus we await His resurrection. In these days of this pandemic, we may feel at times isolated or alone. Look to Jesus Christ. Look to that scene in Matthew's Passion narrative. We are not alone. God is our Savior through Jesus, our Savior.