Lent-Psalm 31

On the Sunday before Easter there are options for the readings.

You can treat the day as Palm Sunday and stress Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is a parade. People shout, “Hosanna”. In many churches there is a procession with children and others waving palm branches. All the readings go along with this mood.

The other option is to treat the day as Passion Sunday. The central event here is the crucifixion. Compared to Palm Sunday, it is a downer.

My practice, when I was a pastor, was to let the parade happen. It was not an unimportant event. It ideally would kick off the services throughout the week that follow Jesus to the cross. But after the parade, the palms, and the Hosannas; I would read the Passion Sunday scriptures.

My reasoning was that most of the people in church on Palm Sunday would not go to any other Holy Week services. The next time they were in church would be Easter Sunday. They would go from the palms and Hosannas to the lilies and trumpets. They would never touch on the betrayal and denial. They would never touch on the garden of agony and the arrest and trial. They would never touch on the mocking and abuse and death on Golgotha–unless you mixed Palm Sunday with Passion Sunday.

Psalm 31 is the Passion Sunday reading. Jesus quoted from this Psalm on the cross when he said, “Into thy hand I commit my spirit.” This is verse 5 of the Psalm. Jesus quoted it before his death according to Luke’s gospel. Also Luke has Stephen quote it as he is being stoned to death in the Book of Acts.

The original Hebrew poem represents the simple prayer of someone who had suffered greatly. He had been sick (vss. 9-10). People had told lies about him (vss. 18 and 20). Friends had dumped him (vs. 11). So it does apply to a situation like the passion of Jesus where there was personal betrayal as well as physical hurt.

Luke probably expected the readers of his passion story to know this psalm and to associate the words of Jesus with the whole atmosphere of its content.

The spiritual point for our sharing in Lent and Passion Sunday? The great contemporary Catholic psalmist, John Michael Talbot, puts it simply, “Father, I put my life in your hands.”

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About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
This entry was posted in Lectionary, Psalms, Seasonal and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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