Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, March 20, 2016

"And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table." -- Luke 22:21

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table.” — Luke 22:21


March 20, Palm Sunday

      Cycle C. Readings:

      At the procession with palms: Luke 19:28-40

      1) Isaiah 50:4-7

      Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24

      2) Philippians 2:6-11

      Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49


By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

There’s an acronym often used to describe Catholics who come to Mass only seldom: PACE (or sometimes CAPE) Catholics. The letters stand for “Palms-Ashes-Christmas-Easter” (or “Christmas-Ashes-Palms-Easter”), referring to the four occasions when they usually choose to attend, for whatever motive.

Since the readings for Palm Sunday are unusually lengthy and the Mass is 20-30 minutes longer than normal due to the beginning procession, I can only imagine that for many of these occasional attendees, the big draw must be the take-home of blessed palms.

Setting aside my indulgence in a bit of self-righteous sarcasm, I find that it’s extremely easy to congratulate myself for not being a PACE/CAPE Catholic, just as it’s quite easy to place myself outside the narrative of Christ’s passion. After all, I’ve heard the story many times before, I wasn’t there when it happened and I’m familiar with the eventual outcome.

So I listen to the readings and reassure myself that Jesus’ suffering is at an end and that I can count myself among the religiously observant few.

Unfortunately, I’m not the first to succumb to this sanctimonious way of thinking, nor will I be the last, I suspect. No sooner had Jesus instituted the sacrifice of his body and blood and predicted his betrayal than the apostles not only absolved themselves of any responsibility, but they argued among themselves about “which of them should be regarded as the greatest.”

“What blind arrogance!” we say smugly, and proceed to the eucharistic table as if we aren’t culpable of any wrongdoing ourselves.

But note whom Jesus identifies as his betrayer: the one whose hand “is with me on the table.” It could have been anyone. And, if I’m truly honest, that “one” is me, especially when I compare myself favorably with others while remaining blind to my own sin. In doing this, I not only approach the Lord’s table unworthily, but I desecrate it without a second thought.

Jesus knows all of this; he knows who his betrayer is, he knows that Peter will deny him three times and he knows every single instance of my own desertion. Yet he still comes to you and to me “as the one who serves.”


What are some small or large ways that you have been disloyal to Jesus? What must you do to be more vigilant in your faithfulness to Christ?

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