Preparing for the Mass of Palm Sunday

The Psalm to be sung at Mass on Sunday, in response to the first reading, anticipates some of the actions that accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus, and also sets us before us, in compact form, something of the enormous emotional journey of faith and self-abandonment and trust that the source psalm present. It is a journey which Matthew tells us Jesus prayed from the Cross, and which is revealed to us in the Paschal Mystery, of Jesus’ Passion Death, Resurrection and Ascension.

If you find you have more time available to you at present, you might not only read and pray the full text of the psalm given below, but also identify episodes of despair and trust in your own life.

There may be unfinished business to attend to, and also triumphs of grace (even quiet triumphs) to once more give thanks for.

Psalm 21(22):8-9,17-20,23-24

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Psalm 22 (21)

1     For the Choirmaster. In the manner of “The Doe at Daybreak.” A Psalm of David.

2     My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
      Why are you far from saving me,
      so far from my words of anguish?
3     O my God, I call by day and you do not answer;
      I call by night and I find no reprieve.

4     Yet you, O God, are holy,
      enthroned on the praises of Israel.
5     In you our forebears put their trust;
      they trusted and you set them free.
6     When they cried to you, they escaped;
      in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

7     But I am a worm and no man,
      scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

8     All who see me deride me;
      they curl their lips, they toss their heads:
9     “He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
      let him release him, for in him he delights.”

10   Yes, it was you who took me from the womb,
      entrusted me to my mother’s breast.
11   To you I was committed from birth;
      from my mother’s womb, you have been my God.
12   Stay not far from me;
      trouble is near, and there is no one to help.

13   Many bulls have surrounded me,
      fierce bulls of Bashan close me in.
14   Against me they open wide their mouths,
      like a lion, rending and roaring.

15   Like water I am poured out,
      disjointed are all my bones.
      My heart has become like wax,
      it is melted within my breast.

16   Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
      my tongue cleaves to my jaws.
      You lay me in the dust of death.

17   For dogs have surrounded me;
      a band of the wicked besets me.
      They tear holes in my hands and my feet;

18   I can count every one of my bones.
      They stare at me and gloat.
19   They divide my clothing among them,
      they cast lots for my robe.

20   But you, O Lord, do not stay afar off;
      my strength, make haste to help me!

21   Rescue my soul from the sword,
      my life from the grip of the dog.
22   Save my life from the jaws of the lion,
      my poor soul from the horns of wild bulls.

23   I will tell of your name to my kin,
      and praise you in the midst of the assembly;
24   “You who fear the Lord, give him praise;
      all descendants of Jacob, give him glory;
      revere him, all you descendants of Israel.

25   For he has never despised
      nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
      From him he has not hidden his face,
      but he heard him whenever he cried.”

26   You are my praise in the great assembly.
      My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
27   The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
      They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
      May their hearts live on forever and ever!

28   All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
      all families of the nations worship before him,
29   for the kingdom is the Lord’s, he is ruler of the nations.
30   They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
      before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.

31   And my soul shall live for him, my descendants serve him.
      They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
32   declare his saving justice to peoples yet unborn:
      “These are the things the Lord has done.”

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
  • Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
  • Image(c) 2014, Allen Morris. Chapel of the San Damiano Crucifix, Church of Santa Chiara, Assisi.

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