ON THIS PALM SUNDAY we ask in varying degrees of puzzlement how the crowd which welcomed Jesus with such enthusiasm during His entry into Jerusalem would turn against Him so quickly within days and demand His crucifixion and the release of Barabbas who had been condemned for murder? Their welcome and shouts for Jesus were superficial. Their support for Him was only skin deep. It was easy to be part of a crowd that welcomed Jesus and it was easy to be part of a crowd that condemned Him to death. In the account of the Passion the crowd was not there for Jesus when He needed them most. The crowd did not go to the cross. The crowd abandoned Jesus. Only a few women and John went to the cross. So much for the crowd! During the Last Supper Peter said he would be willing to go to prison with Jesus, even to death with him. Yet a few hours later that same evening he denied Jesus. How quickly he changed! How quickly he turned when the pressure was on him! He could make fine promises during the Last Supper, but when the crunch came he decided to save his skin. We make fine promises to Jesus here and the crunch for us comes when temptation comes our way. How do we react? Do we cave in to the pressure like Peter or do we stand by Jesus like the women and John and go right to the cross? Peter heard the cock crowing after he denied Jesus, but so many in our world are addicted to sin that maybe we don’t even hear our conscience crowing any more when we sin. How can we not hear the account of Jesus’ Passion and not be moved by it? I can recall a few years ago when someone asked a young person: “What would you think of someone who didn’t cry while watching the movie The Passion of the Christ?” The young person responded, “He would be evil.” That young person was so moved by watching the movie that he could not understand why anybody could not be moved by watching the film. The Passion of Jesus moves us. It moves us because Jesus suffered. In the first reading today we heard what we could describe as a prophecy of Jesus’ passion: “…I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting” (Isa 50:5-6). The words of the Psalmist today are also in many ways a prophecy of the Passion of Jesus: “All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: “He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him. Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. And for my vesture they cast lots” (Ps 22:7-8, 16-18). Folks, the Passion of Jesus moves us because it is we who have inflicted this suffering on Jesus, our Lord, our Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God, the Messiah. It was not just the chief priests and it was not just the cruel Roman soldiers who brought this suffering on Jesus; it was our sins that inflicted this suffering on Jesus. There is no past, present or future for Jesus, He is outside of the human construct of time. Remember the Jubilee motto, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8) – when we sin we crucify Jesus. We actually nail Him again. So then the account of the Passion of Jesus moves us to flee from sin, to leave sin behind. That is why we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent. The Passion of Jesus shows us up for what we are – sinners who have crucified Jesus – and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we turn to Jesus again and ask for His mercy, compassion and forgiveness, which He gives to us. And through the Passion of Jesus we receive forgiveness, for “through his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5).