Palm Sunday (C)
///Luke 19:28-40 – Passion of the Lord – Passion Sunday
///Luke 19:28-40 – Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem – Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday and the
Homilies | Luke 19:28-40
Commentary | Talking Points
The Context (v 28)
Gospel commentary excerpts from a variety of sources. Click on links to view original source material and/or read more.
Lent is bracketed, bookended, by palms
FR. MICHAEL CHUA – Lent is bracketed, bookended, by palms; the loss, burning and destruction of them at its onset and then, the new green leaves this day, near the end. Ultimately that is what this sacred season is about, burning away, clearing out, purifying and cultivating something new. Take the palm branches with you today; let them be a reminder that we are entering the holiest week of the year. The week that begins with the false triumphal entry into Jerusalem, ends with the true triumph over death at the cross.
Journey up to Jerusalem
Jesus on the road
SERMON WRITER – Jesus has been on the road to Jerusalem and death since 9:51. That journey came to an end at 19:27. Luke reminded us frequently along the way that Jesus was going to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:22, 33-34; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11) —alerting us to the significance of the work that he would do there. Luke 19:28 begins the story of his ministry in Jerusalem, much of which takes place at the temple. This story continues through Luke 21:38, and is followed by his passion (Luke 22-23) and resurrection (Luke 24).
An uphill journey
SERMON WRITER -He is going from Jericho (v. 1) to Jerusalem, a distance of about fourteen miles (22 km.). Jericho is on a plain and Jerusalem is on a mountain, so the journey is mostly uphill.
SERMON WRITER – Jesus accomplishes four things
1. He precipitates a public demonstration on his behalf.
2. He forces the hand of the Jewish leaders, bringing their timetable in line with God’s.
3. He fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9—”Your King comes…on a donkey.”
4. He shows himself to be a messiah who brings peace rather than war.
Hendriksen, William, New Testament Commentary: Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 872-873)
The Preparation (vv 29b-35)
Jesus sent two of his disciples…
[to] find a colt
Identity of the disciples
SERMON WRITER – We don’t know the identity of these disciples, but Jesus will send Peter and John to prepare for the Passover meal (22:8), so it is possible that they are also the ones whom he sends for the colt.
Significance of the colt
SERMON WRITER – An animal used for religious purposes must be without blemish and “on which yoke has never been laid” (Numbers 19:2). Also, no one other than the king was allowed to ride the king’s horse. Kings ride neither colts nor donkeys, but full-grown horses—well-trained, responsive horses—horses chosen in part for strength and spirit and in part for appearance—beautiful horses—large, impressive mounts—in much the same way that presidents ride limousines or private jets. The size and beauty of the king’s horse bear testimony to the king’s importance. Furthermore, a man mounted on a large, spirited horse is an intimidating presence, and potential enemies will think twice before attacking a man so mounted.
Jesus is king of the Jews (Luke 19:38; 23:2-3, 37-38), but he is a different kind of king—the kind of king who rides a donkey colt—comes in peace—comes to serve—comes to die. Just as a king’s huge, spirited war-horse sends a message about the man who rides it, so also Jesus’ donkey colt sends a message about him—who he is—his purpose in coming.
A colt can be a horse or donkey, but Matthew 21:2, 5, 7 and John 12:14 specify a donkey—thus fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.
Exult greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
Behold: your king is coming to you,
a just savior is he,
Humble, and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
Disciple’s Celebration (vv 36-38)
Spreading their cloaks…
the disciples praised God
A red carpet welcome
SERMON WRITER – “The crowd receives Jesus with a “red carpet” welcome. (Luke 19:36).
FR. CLEMENT THIBODEAU – Cloaks are laid on the road. These are the people’s most prized possessions, therefore, a sign of their deepest reverence. (Notice: There are no palm branches in Luke’s version!)
FR JUDE LANGEH, CMF – As Jesus is being led into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the crowd sees the man they think will overthrow the government and kick the Romans out for good. But as the holy week progresses, the same people come to realize that Jesus is not who they think he is.
Gospel Comparison: Foliage
Only John mentions “Palm Branches”
FR. MICHAEL CHUA – The most visible accoutrement for this Sunday is the palm branch, and for good reason. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and of victory in the ancient world, and in Jewish tradition. But having paid closer attention to the first Gospel taken from Luke, it is at least a little ironic to refer to this Sunday as “Palm Sunday.” Actually, only John (12:13) mentions “palm branches.” Matthew mentions “branches from the trees”, while Mark describes them as “leafy branches.” Luke mentions nothing about any foliage. So, if you didn’t manage to get your hands on a nice leafy palm, don’t complain.
🔴 CATHOLIC PRAXIS
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The rejoicing and praising of God
SERMON WRITER – Matthew says that it is the crowds who shout Hosanna (Matthew 21:9), and Mark implies the same (Mark 11:8-9). John also says that it is the crowd (John 12:9). Luke, however, specifies that it is the disciples who offer praise, rather than the people of Jerusalem. Psalm 118:26 says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh,” but Luke changes “he” to “the King.” The people use Psalm 118 to welcome pilgrims to the great feasts in the Holy City, but Jesus is more than a pilgrim—he is king.
PABLO T. GADENZ – At Mass, the chant “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Sanctus) sung at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer includes, since at least the sixth century, a these words of Psalm 118 that were addressed to Jesus as he approached Jerusalem (Luke 19:38; see Luke 13:35; Catechism 559).
🔴 CATHOLIC PRAXIS
Pharisees’ Criticism (vv 39-40)
“If [my disciples] keep silent,
the stones will cry out!”
SERMON WRITER – All along, Pharisees have taken offense with Jesus—with his claim to forgive sins (5:21); his friendship with tax collectors and sinners (5:30); his failure to require scrupulous observance of his disciples (5:33); and his healing on the sabbath (6:6-11). Now they take offense at Jesus’ disciples saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”—a saying appropriate only to the messiah.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – “I tell you that if these were silent, the stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). The reason for this inevitability is that God stands behind Jesus’ kingship. It is God who sent the angels and shepherds to proclaim Jesus’ birth ( Luke 2:14, 20), and the time has come for the world to know Jesus as messiah. God will not allow the created order to be silent, now that Jesus’ time has come.
The Lord’s Passion
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”“
The bloodthirsty crowd
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – The bloodthirsty crowd at Jesus’ trial were probably men and woman recruited by the Jewish leaders. Jesus had many supporters; they were so numerous that the religious leaders were afraid to arrest Jesus during the day when so many people were surrounding Him and listening to Him teach (Lk 19:47-48; 20:9; 22:2, 6). Jesus Himself mentioned this when He was arrested (Lk 22:53). In these early morning hours, those who believed Jesus was the Messiah were probably still in bed after the long night celebrating the sacred feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the morning they will attend required morning worship service that began at the third hour/9 AM.
Luke’s Unique Perspective on Christ’s Passion
DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY – Within Luke’s gospel, there is a remarkable “foreground” to the Passion.
- Women are important in Luke and here he shows the representative women of Jerusalem suffering with Jesus (v. 27).
- Luke underlines strongly the innocence of Jesus: Pilate (Luke 23:4, 14, 22), Herod (Luke 23:15), the daughters of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27), Jesus himself (Luke 23:31), the good thief (Luke 23:41), the centurion (Luke 23:47) and the crowds who came to watch (49).
- The martyrdom of Stephen is very similar (Acts 7-8: he sees heaven open; is taken outside the city to be killed; prays “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”; “Lord do not hold this sin against theme”; is buried by devout men). Jesus thus dies as a prophet-martyr (cf. Lk 4:16-30, Jesus as prophet).
- This gospel shows Jesus “dispensing” gifts while going to death himself: reconciliation (between Pilate and Herod); consolation (to the women); forgiveness (to his killers); paradise (to the good thief); praise (the centurion); repentance (to the crowds). The gifts unwrap Luke’s theology of the cross.
- “If you are” takes us back to the temptations in Luke 4:9-10. (vi) The evangelist uses disreputable people to illustrate the Good News: Zacchaeus, the unjust steward, the shepherd (proverbially unable to keep the Law) and the (mean?) woman of the lost coin, the prodigal son, and finally, in this passage, the good thief.
Related Page: Discussion Questions
CROSS REFERENCES SOURCE: B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.).
28. And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
29. And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
30. Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
31. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
32. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
33. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
34. And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
35. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
36. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. Because the Lord had said, The kingdom of heaven is at hand, they that saw Him going up to Jerusalem thought that He was going then to commence the kingdom of God. When then the parable was finished in which He reproved the error above mentioned, and shewed plainly that He had not yet vanquished that death which was plotting against him, he proceeded forth to His passion, going up to Jerusalem.
BEDE. Proving at the same time that the parable had been pronounced concerning the end of that city which was about both to slay Him, and to perish itself by the scourge of the enemy. It follows, And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage, &c. Bethphage was a small village belonging to the priests on Mount Olivet. Bethany was also a little town or hamlet on the side of the same mountain, about fifteen stades from Jerusalem.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 66. in Matt.) At the beginning of His ministry our Lord shewed Himself indifferent to the Jews, but when He had given sufficient token of His power, He transacts every thing with the highest authority. Many are the miracles which then took place. He foretold to them, ye shall find an unbroken colt. He foretels also that no one should hinder them, but as soon as they heard it, should hold their peace.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. Here it was evident that there would be a divine summons. For no one can resist God calling for what is His own. But the disciples when ordered to fetch the colt refused not the office as a slight one, but went to bring him.
BASIL. So likewise should we set about even the lowest works with the greatest zeal and affection, knowing that whatever is done with God before our eyes is not slight, but meet for the kingdom of heaven.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. They who had tied the ass are struck dumb, because of the greatness of His mighty power, and are unable to resist the words of the Saviour; for “the Lord” is a name of majesty, and as a King was He about to come in the sight of all the people.
AUGUSTINE. (de con. Ev. lib. ii. cap. 66.) Nor matters it that Matthew speaks of an ass and its foal, while the others say nothing of the ass; for when both may be conceived, there is no variance even though one relate one thing, and another another, much less where one relates one thing, another both.
GLOSS. (non occ.) The disciples waited upon Christ not only in bringing the colt of another, but also with their own garments, some of which they placed upon the ass, others they strewed in the way.
BEDE. According to the other Evangelists, not the disciples only, but very many also out of the crowds scattered their garments in the way.
AMBROSE. Mystically, our Lord came to Mount Olivet, that he might plant new olive trees on the heights of virtue. And perhaps the mountain itself is Christ, for who else could bear such fruit of olives abounding in the fulness of the Spirit?
BEDE. Rightly are the towns described as placed on Mount Olivet, that is, on the Lord Himself, who rekindles the unction of spiritual graces with the light of knowledge and piety.
ORIGEN. Bethany is interpreted, the house of obedience, but Bethphage the house of cheek bones, being a place belonging to the priests, for cheek bones in the sacrifices were the right of the priests, as it is commanded in the law. To that place then where obedience is, and where the priests have the possession, our Saviour sends His disciples to loose the ass’s colt.
AMBROSE. For they were in the village, and the colt was tied with its mother, nor could it be loosed except by the command of the Lord. The apostle’s hand looses it. Such was the act, such the life, such the grace. Be such, that thou mayest be able to loose those that are bound. In the ass indeed Matthew represented the mother of error, but in the colt Luke has described the general character of the Gentile people. And rightly, whereon yet never man sat, for none before Christ called the nations of the Gentiles into the Church. But this people was tied and bound by the chains of iniquity, being subject to an unjust master, the servant of error, and could not claim to itself authority whom not nature but crime had made guilty. Since the Lord is spoken of, one master is recognised. O wretched bondage under a doubtful mastery! For he has many masters who has not one. Others bind that they may possess, Christ looses that he may keep, for He knew that gifts are more powerful than chains.
ORIGEN. There were then many masters of this colt, before that the Saviour had need of him. But as soon as He began to be the master, there ceased to be any other. For no one can serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6:24.) When we are the servants of wickedness we are subject to many vices and passions, but the Lord has need of the colt, because He would have us loosed from the chain of our sins.
ORIGEN. (sup. Joan. tom. ii.) Now I think this place is not without reason said to be a small village. For as if it were a village without any further name, in comparison of the whole earth the whole heavenly country is despised.
AMBROSE. Nor is it for nothing that two disciples are directed thither; Peter to Cornelius, Paul to the rest. And therefore He did not mark out the persons, but determined the number. Still should any one require the persons, he may believe it to be spoken of Philip, whom the Holy Spirit sent to Gaza, when he baptized the eunuch of Queen Candace. (Acts 8:38.)
THEOPHYLACT. Or the two sent imply this, that the Prophets and Apostles make up the two steps to the bringing in of the Gentiles, and their subjection to Christ. But they bring the colt from a certain village, that it may be known to us that this people was rude and unlearned.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Those men who were directed, when they were loosing the colt, did not use their own words, but spoke as Jesus had told them, that you may know that not by their own words, but the word of God, not in their own name but in Christ’s, they implanted the faith among the Gentile nations; and by the command of God the hostile powers ceased, which claimed to themselves the obedience of the Gentiles.
ORIGEN. (in Luc. 37.) The disciples next place their garments upon the ass, and cause the Saviour to sit thereon, inasmuch as they take upon themselves the word of God, and make it to rest upon the souls of their hearers. They divest themselves of their garments, and strew them in the way, for the clothing of the Apostles is their good works. And truly does the ass loosened by the disciples and carrying Jesus, walk upon the garments of the Apostles, when it imitates their doctrine. Which of us is so blessed, that Jesus should rest upon him?
AMBROSE. For it pleased not the Lord of the world to be borne upon the ass’s back, save that in a hidden mystery by a more inward sitting, the mystical Ruler might take His seat in the secret depths of men’s souls, guiding the footsteps of the mind, bridling the wantonness of the heart. His word is a rein, His word is a goad.
37. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38. Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out
ORIGEN. As long as our Lord was in the mount His Apostles only were with Him, but when He began to be near the descent, then there came to Him a multitude of the people.
THEOPHYLACT. He calls by the name of disciples not only the twelve, or the seventy-two, but all who followed Christ, whether for the sake of the miracles, or from a certain charm in His teaching, and to them may be added the children, as the other Evangelists relate. Hence it follows, For all the mighty works which they had seen.
BEDE. They beheld indeed many of our Lord’s miracles, but marvelled most at the resurrection of Lazarus. For as John says, For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. For it must be observed that this was not the first time of our Lord’s coming to Jerusalem, but He came often before, as John relates.
AMBROSE. The multitude then acknowledging God, proclaims Him King, repeats the prophecy, and declares that the expected Son of David according to the flesh had come, saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.
BEDE. That is, in the name of God the Father, although it might be taken “in His own name,” since He Himself is the Lord. But His own words are better guides to the meaning when He says, I am come in my Father’s name. For Christ is the Master of humility. Christ is not called King as one who exacts tribute, or arms His forces with the sword, or visibly crushes His enemies, but because He rules men’s minds, and brings them believing, hoping, and loving into the kingdom of heaven. For Ho was willing to be King of Israel, to shew His compassion, not to increase His power. But because Christ appeared in the flesh, as the redemption and light of the whole world, well do both the heaven and earth, each in their turn, chaunt His praises. When He is born into the world, the heavenly hosts sing; when He is about to return to heaven, men send back their note of praise. As it follows, Peace in heaven.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, the ancient warfare, wherein we were at enmity against God, has ceased. And glory in the highest, inasmuch as Angels are glorifying God for such a reconciliation. For this very thing, that God visibly walks in the land of His enemies, shews that He has peace with us. But the Pharisees when they heard that the crowd called Him King, and praised Him as God, murmured, imputing the name of King to sedition, the name of God to blasphemy. And some of the Pharisees said, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
BEDE. O the strange folly of the envious; they scruple not to call Him Master, because they knew He taught the truth, but His disciples, as though themselves were better taught, they deem worthy of rebuke.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But the Lord forbade not them that glorified Him as God, but rather forbade those that blamed them, so bearing witness to Himself concerning the glory of the Godhead. Hence it follows, He answered and said unto them, I tell you, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
THEOPHYLACT. As if He said, Not without cause do men praise me thus, but being constrained by the mighty works which they have seen.
BEDE. And so at the crucifixion of our Lord, when His kinsfolk were silent from fear, the stones and rocks sang forth, while after that He gave up the ghost, the earth was moved, and the rocks were rent, and the graves opened.
AMBROSE. Nor is it wonderful that the stones against their nature should chaunt forth the praises of the Lord, whom His murderers, harder than the rocks, proclaim aloud, that is, the multitude, in a little while about to crucify their God, denying Him in their hearts, whom with their mouths they confess. Or perhaps it is said, because, when the Jews were struck silent after the Lord’s Passion, the living stones, as Peter calls them, (1 Pet. 2:5.) were about to cry out.
ORIGEN. When we also are silent, (that is, when the love of many waxeth cold,) the stones cry out, for God can from stones raise up children to Abraham.
AMBROSE. Rightly we read that the crowds praising God met Him at the descent of the mountain, that they might signify that the works of the heavenly mystery had come to them from heaven.
BEDE. Again, when our Lord descends from the mount of Olives, the multitude descend also, because since the Author of mercy has suffered humiliation, it is necessary that all those who need His mercy should follow His footsteps.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
Hearers of the Word
KIERAN 0’MAHONY, OSA – Augustinian friar and biblical scholar, currently assisting in Donnybrook parish (Dublin). He provides notes and commentaries in four formats: 1. PDF — the full notes, including weekday introductions, 5 pages. 2. The gospel notes only in audio format. 3. The gospel notes presented in a portable format suitable for smartphones and tablets. 4. YouTube video: A further exploration of the Gospel (usually) from a different angle.
Mass Readings Explained
DR BRANT PITRE – Palm Sunday is one of the most iconic Sundays during the entire year. Not only do Catholics often process into the Church with palms on Palm Sunday, but we read about Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem in the Gospel reading. But, why did the Jewish people lay down specifically palm branches before Jesus and why are they shouting Hosannah in the Highest? What would that have meant? Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre where he covers these two topics for Palm Sunday.
The Word Exposed
CARDINAL LUIS ANTONIO TAGLE – The Word Exposed with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples reflects on Sunday’s Mass readings each week. From the Vatican, produced by Jesuit Communications.
A Walk in the Word
Unpacking the Mass
KEITH NESTER – Former protestant pastor and Catholic convert Keith Nester engages in an exploration of the weekly texts from the Mass.
Centre for Christian Spirituality
The Word Proclaimed Institute
FR. FRANCIS MARTIN – Fr. Francis Martin +August 11, 2017, taught at the Gregorian University in Rome, the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Franciscan University of Steubenville), and the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.