Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

April 2, 2023

Sister Margaret Meaney, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14 – 27:66

In the gospel the whole city is shaken, asking “who is this?”

It is Jesus, carrying the knowledge of his appointed time; the one carrying emotional anguish amid the palm waving crowds; the one who knows he will be betrayed; the one who knows he will be denied.

At the last supper, after taking the morsel from Jesus’ hand, Judas went out. And it was night.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweats blood. The medical term for this is hematidrosis and the condition is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response, and leaves the sufferer with decreased blood volume, dehydration, and weakness.

Hematidrosis makes the skin extremely fragile and tender. Pain would be felt more deeply.

Every instinct for self-preservation within Jesus was screaming to get out of there.

There was once an occasion when I accidentally and painfully lashed my face with a garment tie. After that I will always cut off the tips to prevent a re-occurrence.

Imagine the scourging with metal and bone tips on the end of the flagellum and compounded by the sensitivity caused by hematidrosis. This trauma alone could have killed Jesus.

The crowning with thorns damaged the trigeminal and greater occipital nerves of the scalp. Being struck several times by the reeds contributed to the traumatic shock.

Carrying the cross to Golgotha, falling, being whipped played their traumatic parts in the ordeal.

Trauma upon trauma.

The nails were driven through both hands on the angle of the thenar furrow at the base of the palm, exiting the wrist and into the cross, damaging the median nerve and causing the most exquisite pain, medically known as causalgia.

Probably all of us have dropped something on or had our insteps stepped on. We know that pain.

Jesus had a nail.

“The whole city is shaken, asking ‘Who is this?’”

He is The One Who Loves. The One Who says to us, “You are worth it.”

He is The One Who rides an ass, is crucified, and rises on the third day.


I wish to thank:

Frederic T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Pathology, Columbia University,

College of Physicians and Surgeons. N.Y.

Chief Medical Examiner, Rockland County N.Y. (retired)


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