This weekend is Saturday the 12th and Sunday the 13th of April, Palm Sunday, beginning Holy Week.

The monks of Pluscarden Abbey sing:  ‘Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.’    As I begin to pray, I too commend my spirit to the Lord.  I place myself in God’s hands during this time of prayer, putting all my hope and all my trust in him.

This week is the most beautiful and the most important of the Church’s year. It is the drama of our salvation and our life. It is also a week of profound renewal. We renew our baptismal life because we see again the battle that God in Christ wins against all the powers of darkness and destruction in our world and in our lives. We know that our baptism makes us participators in his victory and so we have the courage to follow him on his journey and to contemplate the mystery of his love for us.  Through this week, and especially as it breaks into the new life and light of Easter, we also renew our faith in Christ and in his way. The journey of Holy Week gives us great consolation and confidence. We see that God’s way is not our way or the ways of our world. His power is not exercised through force or coercion or through ‘shock and awe’. His way is entirely different; it refuses to get caught up in all our traps and illusions. In his Son, Jesus Christ, God chooses a different way. It is the way we least expected; a shocking way – the way of weakness and humility; the way of powerlessness and foolishness; the way that is least comprehensible for us. Yet this is precisely because it is God who acts, in his way and on his terms. God is supremely free to challenge all our impossibilities, all our logic, with his own self. The only way to follow him is the way of Christ, to trust him with our self – everything that we are and have. It is the folly of the Cross and glorious foolishness of a love so deep, strong, and free that nothing can resist it. All we can do is receive it as gift and then live it in faith, hope and love. These greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit; the gifts of true consolation and the witness that Christ is risen.

The best way of praying this week is simply to follow it. All we have to do in our prayer is be open and receptive, content to follow and to receive what God chooses to give us. In this way our prayer enters into the way Christ lives it. He allows himself to be taken on a journey by the Father – ‘thy will be done.’ So, let scripture take you on this road. Be attentive to it; notice its details, entrust yourself to it. Don’t fill up your prayer with too many words or thoughts or petitions, ‘For your heavenly Father knows all that you need.’ Let each period of prayer begin simply by asking for the grace of this week: to be close to Christ as he does the will of the Father. To touch something of the mystery of his life and love.

Try and touch something of that mystery now as we hear Matthew’s account of Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week:

Jesus seems to be in control here from the outset. He knows what needs to be done, and directs the action. He sends his closest friends to get all that he needs ready. If you are one of those friends, how do you react to all of this?

The crowd get caught up in the excitement of it all. Each of them has a part to play, throwing down their cloaks and waving palm branches. If you’re part of this crowd, how does it feel to be involved in this unexpected event?

On the edge of the scene are the Roman authorities, anxious to keep order at a festival when the city is crowded and it would be easy for things to get out of control. If you’re with the Roman garrison here, what’s your response to this noisy demonstration?

As you listen to the story again, see if you can get any sense of what it all means to the one at the centre of the action, Jesus.

You’ve approached this reading from various viewpoints: that of the disciples, of the crowd, of the Romans, and even of Jesus. In these last few moments, speak to that same Jesus now of what you have seen and heard. And let him, in turn, speak to you.