Minnesota Episcopal
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church


Lectionary Reflection

Liturgy of The Palms, All Years

Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
"His mercy endures for ever."
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the LORD.
20 "This is the gate of the LORD; *
he who is righteous may enter."
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the LORD'S doing, *
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the LORD has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Hosannah, LORD, hosannah! *
LORD, send us now success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; *
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 God is the LORD; he has shined upon us; *
form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar.
28 "You are my God, and I will thank you; *
you are my God, and I will exalt you."
29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever. 
Copyright Statement


Reflection on Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Makers of lectionaries see connections (usually) between the texts that are read together on a particular day. This psalm shares a theme with Palm Sunday: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone" (111:22). No first century earthly ruler would prefer a donkey to a chariot for use on coronation day. Minor League player Israel would not be used in the Big Leagues. But the Builder of the universe saw things differently. The psalmist saw God already making Israel to be the "chief cornerstone" in God's building project.

What the powers that be regard as useless and naïve turns out to be the "sine qua non," the absolutely essential component, of ordered dependable existence ("righteousness," 111:19-20). What really holds the world together is not struggling contesting powers (military, economic, psychological), but the truly "righteous" person whom Judaism prizes, or to put it another way, the person of true "humility" whose unassuming genuineness glues together what has been wrongly torn asunder.

Palm Sunday is a time to reflect on relations between power structures and the strength of genuine humility, between appearance and reality, between what is transitory and what endures. A major challenge for us in the 21st Century is to make the move from charisma to institution building without diminishing or losing the originating charisma. That is true of churches no less than political and other institutions.

Let the spirit of beggar Jesus on a donkey pervade corporate board rooms and government regulatory agencies and ecclesiastical bureaucracies until justice flows down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream – until what has been widely rejected becomes the chief cornerstone of  new environmental safeguards, merciful social safety nets, and economic justice for all.

Printable version


Reflections on other Readings for the Liturgy of The Palms:

Reflections available at the active links
Year A
Year B
Year C
Matthew 21: 1-11
Mark 11: 1-11 or
John 12: 12-16
Luke 19: 28-40
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
(this page)
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
(this page)
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
(this page)

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2002. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


This page last updated 2013-03-11.



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