April 7, 2022
And so we begin! Passion Sunday marks the last Sunday of Lent and opens Holy Week. On this day we begin with the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, an act that will lead to the culmination of the Paschal Mystery with his death and resurrection. With palms in hand, singing in praise, we process in commemoration. But this is Passion Sunday. The name reflects the ancient Roman custom of the proclamation of the Passion on the Sunday preceding Easter and it is this proclamation that makes up the heart of the liturgy on the first day of Holy Week.
This year we read The Passion from the Gospel of Luke. Here we encounter some of the oldest eucharistic traditions in the New Testament, including mention of the two cups, reflecting the ancient Passover meal set by Luke in the context of the now present reign of God. Here the second cup is blessed as the cup of the new covenant, in his blood that will be shed for all. The meaning of the cup is made even more explicit just a few paragraphs further when Jesus prays to the Father that if it be his will to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” To drink the cup is to pay the cost. This is the case for us today (pandemic aside) we are called by our baptism to give our yes, to drink the cup, to be willing to pay the price and give ourselves away in care for others.
Luke’s account of the Passion, set as it is in light of salvation history, the fulfilment of the Paschal Mystery and the depth of the Eucharist, casts the suffering and death of Christ in terms of hope, trust and resurrection. At the very end of the Passion account, between sun and darkness, Jesus’ final words reflect his prayer in the Garden. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He puts his trust in his Father, he takes the cup and by so doing he brings to fulfilment his life and death at the resurrection.