Examples of radical obedience and trust in God unfold in Palm Sunday readings


By Valerie Teets
For The Catholic Messenger


Palm Sunday starts off Holy Week with amazing readings. We receive much to ponder, beginning with the Gospel telling of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The intense foreshadowing found in the psalm follows and then the reading from Isaiah, the powerful reflection from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians and, finally, the Gospel recounting the heart-rending experience of Jesus’ passion and death.

In my own reflection, what keeps coming to me is the example of radical obedience and trust in God.  Sometimes obedience and trust might look easier when the circumstances are like the first Gospel: impressive, joyful, triumphant, but what about in the second Gospel? How do we act when faced with confusing, difficult or even painful situations?

Looking to Jesus, we see that he knows that even in times when we wish the cup would be taken away from us, obedience and trust in God is of utmost importance. Perhaps, realistically, we act a little more like St. Peter, thinking we know ourselves better than God does or acting quickly and aggressively towards others when that’s not what Jesus wants of us (hopefully we aren’t in the habit of cutting off people’s ears). Maybe we act like many of the other apostles, fleeing from Jesus altogether. These are understandable reactions but, ultimately, far beneath what we are called to as Christians. Thank goodness we have an understanding, merciful and proactive God who anticipates us with his grace despite our failures and weaknesses.


As we continue to follow Jesus through his passion, we see that the path is not an easy one; not even Jesus carried the cross without falling. There are other people on the path, people who have been chosen to help, like Simon of Cyrene who probably didn’t understand why he had been chosen or what he was really doing. Still, he too was obedient and thus had the immense honor of assisting our Lord in carrying his burden to Golgotha.

Finally, Jesus is, as Paul says, obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. It is his complete obedience to and trust in his Father that allows him to perform the greatest act of love for all of us. What a beautiful gift it is to be loved so greatly by someone so wholly good.

As we finish this season of Lent, I invite us to think about this Gospel. Whose attitudes and actions from it have we been reflecting the most? Perhaps this week we can strive to imitate the most briefly mentioned figure: Mary Magdalene. In spite of her lack of understanding and the pain and fear she must’ve felt, she knew that staying close to and ministering to Jesus as best she could was simply the most important thing she would ever do. As a result of the obedience, loyalty and trust that she displayed, she was one of the very first to witness the glory of his resurrection.

(Valerie Teets is a parishioner at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Iowa City.)

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