Palm Sunday this year is the gospel of Luke.

Luke’s Passion Narrative begins with the longest Last Supper scene among the synoptics. This Last Supper account includes the unique features of two cups of wine and the betrayal after the communion. Luke also includes “an argument broke out among them about which is the greatest.”  Again, Luke’s overall theme of the great reversal appears here. This is followed by the prediction of Peter’s denial, after which Luke adds an admonition about their preparedness for mission by taking a money bag and a sack as well as a sword!  All excited by this, he squelches their enthusiasm with “It is enough!” 

In the agony in the garden, Jesus prays only once and then awakens the disciples. The arrest has the pattern of the kiss, the cutting of the ear, the seizure, and Jesus’ first claim to innocence. The court scene in front of the Sanhedrin and in front of Pilate both bracket like bookends Peter’s threefold denial, as if a third court scene among the commoners. Luke does not include Judas’ suicide. Luke uniquely includes a fourth court scene in front of King Herod. Back in the court of Pontius Pilate, who in Luke does not wash his hands, Jesus is sentenced to death, with Pilate placing the responsibility on the peoples’ demands. 

The way of the cross includes only two of the traditional stations in this gospel: the enlistment of Simon of  Cyrene and the confrontation with the women of Jerusalem. In Matthew and Mark, the way of the cross is only one verse long. Luke uniquely adds the dialogue with the two thieves crucified with Jesus. Luke only tells of the profession the centurion’s faith and nothing of the piercing of his side. Luke does not name anyone at the foot of the cross. The crucifixion scene tells of three of the seven last words

The burial focuses on Joseph of Arimathea; it merely says “women who came from Galilee with him” returned later but before the Sabbath to make the final preparations. 

Jesus’ servant role comes across very strongly in the last supper scene here, and i some way in several of the characters along the way to the grave. We would like to think of ourselves as these servants, as we consider how we imitate Christ in our own lives. This servant theme links all the readings on Palm Sunday.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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