PALM SUNDAY: THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRANCE OF CHRIST INTO JERUSALEM
 

(PHOTO - Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, early 1900's Bible card illustration. Traditionally, entering the city on a donkey symbolizes arrival in peace, rather than as a war waging king arriving on a horse. From WIKIPEDIA]

TORONTO, APRIL 16, 2011 (PHNO) Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week in which Christians celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ's Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Beginning in the fourth century in Jerusalem, Palm Sunday was marked by a procession of the faithful carrying palm branches, representing the Jews who celebrated Christ's entrance into Jerusalem. In the early centuries, the procession began on the Mount of the Ascension and proceeded to the Church of the Holy Cross.

As the practice spread throughout the Christian world by the ninth century, the procession would begin in each church with the blessing of palms, proceed outside the church, and then return to the church for the reading of the Passion according to the Gospel of Matthew. The faithful would continue to hold the palms during the reading of the Passion. In this way, they would recall that many of the same people who greeted Christ with shouts of joy on Palm Sunday would call for His Death on Good Friday-a powerful reminder of our own weakness and the sinfulness that causes us to reject Christ.

In different parts of the Christian world, particularly where palms were historically hard to obtain, branches of other bushes and trees were used, including olive, box elder, spruce, and various willows. Perhaps best known is the Slavic custom of using pussy willows, which are among the earliest of plants to bud out in the spring.

The faithful have traditionally decorated their houses with the palms from Palm Sunday, and, in many countries, a custom developed of weaving the palms into crosses that were placed on home altars or other places of prayer. Since the palms have been blessed, they should not simply be discarded; rather, the faithful return them to their local parish in the weeks before Lent, to be burned and used as the ashes for Ash Wednesday.

If some of these Christians’ attention to penance and mortification has slackened in the course of the past weeks of Lent (which began on Ash Wednesday), today’s liturgy of Passion (or Palm) Sunday, will remind them that they should be truly in earnest when they prepare themselves to celebrate the sad memorial of the cross Christ bore to redeem mankind from their sins.

The gospel of this Sunday is the narrative of the Passion according to the account of Saint Matthew.

Today’s Passion Sunday Mass also includes a call to meditate on the words of Psalm 23 and Psalm 46. They inspire us to believe that—as Catholic orthodoxy teaches—Christ’s victory over sin and death is certain. And that it can also be a victory that every human being who follows his sacrificial example can enjoy and share with others.

This certitude encourages Christians to rejoice and sing out “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

This joyful acclamation is recited not only today but in every Mass throughout the year. (When Pope Benedict XVI visited Turkey, where the term Christian was first used to refer to Christ’s faithful, he had a warm and historic meeting with the leader of the Orthodox Church. The world saw a hint that all is well between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies—despite outward signs of division over political things. Patriarch Bartholomew hugged the Pope and said: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna on the highest!”)

Christians today sing of the God-Man as the victor-king as he enters Jerusalem seated on a donkey. The donkey is a reminder to ordinary folk that even the humblest sacrificial person can elevate his acts of self-giving to the level of the divine through Jesus Christ.

Christ’s Passion will only be completed to the fullest later, after His death on Good Friday, when he is resurrected at dawn of Easter Sunday. But today, because he is both perfect God and perfect Man—in the doctrine of Christian orthodoxy—it is no less than God the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who approaches riding a donkey to meet his appointment with Calvary. The people hail him as their true king—not the kings who live in palaces and have armies to make the population bow to their will. Those who have cloaks and coats lay these down to form a carpet for Him and His donkey to step on. They wave olive and palm branches to welcome him.

Holy Week starts
this Sunday, April 17th

We Filipinos have not lost our enthusiasm for this ancient ritual of the blessing of the palms after the procession outside the church and the waving of the palms inside the church at today’s Mass. Filipino children love watching the whole church tremble with the swishing fronds.

Today, we see Jesus as the King of the Church, and the Church as the spiritual Israel which is mankind foreshadowed, however faintly, by the Jews who went to meet him carrying palms.

The Christian faithful know that, despite all the problems she is facing now, despite the sinfulness of her members and leaders, the Church is the mankind of the future. Purified, turned into a kingdom of the people of God, made up of different and discrete individual men, women and children, the Church will also become completely one. United, just as the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are completely united in the One God. For each of the individual members of the Church shall have become other Christs. Or—if some women prefer—other Marys. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, was His perfect human imitation.

To Catholics, Orthodox Christians, High Anglicans and High Episcopalians and the Filipino independent Catholics also known as the Aglipayans—to those of these faiths who still value the observances of the Church—Holy Week, in the forty days of Lent, stands out as the preeminent week of penance.

If some of these Christians’ attention to penance and mortification has slackened in the course of the past weeks of Lent (which began on Ash Wednesday), today’s liturgy of Passion (or Palm) Sunday, will remind them that they should be truly in earnest when they prepare themselves to celebrate the sad memorial of the cross Christ bore to redeem mankind from their sins.

The gospel of this Sunday is the narrative of the Passion according to the account of Saint Matthew.

Today’s Passion Sunday Mass also includes a call to meditate on the words of Psalm 23 and Psalm 46. They inspire us to believe that—as Catholic orthodoxy teaches—Christ’s victory over sin and death is certain. And that it can also be a victory that every human being who follows his sacrificial example can enjoy and share with others.

This certitude encourages Christians to rejoice and sing out “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” This joyful acclamation is recited not only today but in every Mass throughout the year.

(When Pope Benedict XVI visited Turkey, where the term Christian was first used to refer to Christ’s faithful, he had a warm and historic meeting with the leader of the Orthodox Church. The world saw a hint that all is well between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies—despite outward signs of division over political things. Patriarch Bartholomew hugged the Pope and said: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna on the highest!”)

Christians today sing of the God-Man as the victor-king as he enters Jerusalem seated on a donkey. The donkey is a reminder to ordinary folk that even the humblest sacrificial person can elevate his acts of self-giving to the level of the divine through Jesus Christ.

Palm Sunday

Without any boastfulness, he matter of factly answers the Pharisees, who are scandalized by the common folk’s enthusiasm for the man they know as a nobody, the son of a mere carpenter, Joseph, and the prayerful girl Mary. “No one can stop them from honouring me. If you silence them, the stones and the trees will cry out in their place.”

We Filipinos have not lost our enthusiasm for this ancient ritual of the blessing of the palms after the procession outside the church and the waving of the palms inside the church at today’s Mass. Filipino children love watching the whole church tremble with the swishing fronds.

Today, we see Jesus as the King of the Church, and the Church as the spiritual Israel which is mankind foreshadowed, however faintly, by the Jews who went to meet him carrying palms.

The Christian faithful know that, despite all the problems she is facing now, despite the sinfulness of her members and leaders, the Church is the mankind of the future.

Purified, turned into a kingdom of the people of God, made up of different and discrete individual men, women and children, the Church will also become completely one. United, just as the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are completely united in the One God.

For each of the individual members of the Church shall have become other Christs. Or—if some women prefer—other Marys. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, was His perfect human imitation. Article source: The Manila Times


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2011 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE