Vivat Christus Rex! Long live Christ the King!
Finally, as Lent nears its end, we find ourselves at Palm Sunday (and long Gospel readings)! The Gospel of Mark this Sunday can often be taken at its face value as a recounting of the Passion of Christ, and we can read it as a simple historical document. However, as we enter Holy Week, and near Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we should look more closely at the text in light of its relationship to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Lenten spirit of repentance.
The nature of the New Testament (covenant) is that it fulfilled the Old Testament (covenant), and this fulfillment happens through the replacement of the old with something of greater dignity. Circumcision has been replaced by Baptism, the Jewish priesthood had been replaced with the priesthood of Melchizedek, and the Passover lamb has given way to the Lamb of God as a sacrifice for sin. Today’s Gospel reading recounts how Jesus and His disciples begin the story of the Passion by celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), immediately after Christ’s feet are anointed with perfumed oil as a sign of His death to come. The fulfillment of the Passover ritual exists in the establishment of the Mass and Calvary.
Passover was celebrated by the offering of a lamb, unleavened bread, and the recounting of the Jewish people’s liberation from Egypt. Here, Christ, already alluding to His death to come, takes the bread and wine, and says: “This is my body; This is my blood of the new covenant, which will be shed for many.”