Reflection on the celebration of Palm Sunday
On this day the Church celebrates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery. There he would be arrested, imprisoned, falsely accused, condemned, scourged, crowned with thorns, burdened with the cross, pushed around, nailed to the cross, would die and be buried. It was also there that he would triumph by his resurrection. Jerusalem was the center of his work for our salvation. Jerusalem was the battle ground where satan would be defeated by Jesus. Yerusha means inheritance; Shalom means peace; Jesus would win for all of us peace with the Father. God himself gained our reconciliation with God. Such is the love of our Father for us, that he gave his only Son for our salvation, to reconcile us to himself.
Let us follow the events of that Sunday. Jesus moved toward Jerusalem by his own free will; he was free to lay down his life and free to take it up again. Do I have that kind of love? Parents, how many times have you entered into situations where you knew you would be hurt but which you nevertheless entered into for the sake of your children? Your love approximates God’s love.
Jesus rode a donkey, a beast of burden, a tamed animal of the lowly and poor, not on a horse as Roman conquerors would do, a symbol of arrogance and worldly dominance. He was lowly and humble, no show of social rank or earthly power, yet the people spontaneously acclaimed him; he showed no trappings of wealth yet the people honored him as king: “Hossana to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Do I see my Lord and Savior in this humble carpenter of Nazareth? Am I ready to follow Jesus as my Lord and King? Jesus answered the scribes and Pharisees that, if the crowd would be silenced, the stones would shout and acclaim him. Have I openly acclaimed God and his signs and wonders in my life? Have I proclaimed the many small and big miracles God has done in my life? It is about time I also learn to say: “Thanks be to God,” and “To God be the glory.”
But there is something I must beware of; this crowd that on Sunday acclaimed Jesus as the “Son of David,” would be the same crowd that would shout “crucify him” on Friday. They were gullible; like the wind they changed direction and denied Jesus just because the majority was doing it. Have I not gone with the current of the fashion in wearing indecent clothes to go to Mass? When I am bridesmaid in weddings, did I not wear backless and strapless gowns in Church, just because it is the fashion? Of the men, did I not wear only slippers and shorts and T-shirts at Mass, while to visit the Mayor, I wear my most elegant clothes? Have I the strength to go against the current of the majority when it comes to following the commandments of God and of the Church? Or do I violate God’s commandments because it is the “uso,” like premarital sex, artificial contraceptives, drugs, etc. On this Palm Sunday we begin our journey with Jesus to his Passion, Death and Resurrection, the great events of our salvation. The procession with palm branches is an introductory rite in a ritual imitation of the event, leading to the proclamation of the Passion at the Gospel. The Roman Liturgy stresses the memorial of the Lord’s Passion, therefore, we should focus on the Gospel procla- mation. As regards the palms, they are a sign of victory and triumph for Jesus’ entry as the awaited King-Messiah. But these palm branches of victory are burnt to become the ashes of Ash Wednesday: victory turns to dust. Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem ended in the ignominious crucifixion on Good Friday. We are reminded that all earthly glory fades, but we are made conscious that it is from the humiliation of ashes that final victory ensues. Jesus himself teaches us that everything in this world passes away and that he alone can make all things new. Satan was happy because Jesus was put to death. Yet we all know that by his death and resurrection he conquered death and sin and satan. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of discernment to see that, the earthly glories we cling to, will all fade away, and that only our deeds of faithful adherence to Jesus will remain with us to be transported to eternity. Beginning today, let us enter into deep and soaking prayer over the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday so that on Easter morning we can sing with the Blessed Mother: Alleluia! The Lord is truly risen. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!