Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2024 – Palm/Passion Sunday

Sunday Readings: Mark 11.1-10; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Mark 14.1-15.47

During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take this; this is my body.” In the same way he took a cup, gave thanks, and passed it to them, and all drank from it. “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out on behalf of many. I will never drink again of the fruit of the vine until the day I drink it new in the kingdom of God (14.22-25).

The passion narrative according to Mark begins two days before Passover. The chief priests and scribes are plotting to put Jesus to death. Jesus is at table in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper.

A woman breaks open an alabaster jar of costly ointment and pours the oil on Jesus’ head. Israel anointed its kings by pouring oil on their heads. The woman’s gesture is a prophetic act that, like the words of blessing that welcome Jesus to Jerusalem, identifies him as the messiah.

Jesus affirms her action, saying, “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Her action anticipates the reason the high priest condemns Jesus. It contrasts starkly with Judas Iscariot’s act of betrayal, which happens next as he goes to the chief priests and arranges to hand Jesus over.  

The officials’ plotting, the woman’s anointing, and Judas’s betraying form a literary sandwich. The middle story is key, the meat of the sandwich; in this case, the prophetic anointing that marks Jesus as the messiah and readies him for death.

Jesus and his disciples then plan and celebrate Passover. At this meal Jesus takes bread, blesses it, and gives it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body.” Then he blesses and shares a cup of wine, identifying the cup of wine with his lifeblood. His prophetic words and gestures anticipate and interpret his death on the cross. Sharing the cup signifies a new covenant, a new agreement about our relationship with God.

Ancient Israel ratified its covenant with God in the blood of oxen, signifying that the people pledged with their lives to keep the ten commandments and become the people of God. The community that tells Jesus’ story understands his gestures at the last supper as a new covenant that expresses his willingness to love them and us unto death.

  • What do you promise with your life?
Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping