Today is Palm Sunday, a significant date for Christians across the globe. When I think about Palm Sunday, I reflect on how the day is both joyful and sorrowful.
You ever wonder why Catholics hold actual palms on this day? It is rooted directly in scripture. When Jesus returned to Jerusalem, he triumphantly rode a donkey into the city. Citizens cheered his return and laid out palm branches along his path. At mass this weekend, we start the service with this biblical recollection (it can be found in all four gospels). As the procession makes its way to the altar, we raise palms as well.
This was a glorious moment in Christ’s ministry, and thus a great moment for us to celebrate each year. But Palm Sunday also brings joy because it marks one week until Easter and it kicks off Holy Week. As the Lenten season concludes, we have hope that the Resurrection is upon us. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
However, as I mentioned above, Palm Sunday isn’t only about happiness. In mass today, we hear two gospel readings. The first is of course the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. The second is the Passion according to Mark. After remembering how the human race celebrated Jesus, we meditate on how it crucified him.
Likewise, although the one-week mark until Easter brings us significant anticipation, it also brings us darkness as well. On Good Friday we will read John’s account of Christ’s Passion. This is a day of mourning, the day in which we observe the actual death of Jesus for our sins. It is a day of fasting and the service usually takes place at 3 p.m. to commemorate the time that Jesus died.
Our pastor at St. Andrew, Father Roger Morgan, encourages us to keep our palms displayed in our homes throughout the year. He urges us to look at them often to remind us that we are all like the crowds of Jerusalem, both capable of welcoming the Lord with joy, but also betraying him if he fails to meet our expectations.
Let me end with this: As we enter Holy Week, let’s make sure to meditate on how we have failed God. The next several days is the perfect time to intensify our Lenten promises or, if we neglected to do so, make some for this week. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for Easter. Don’t Blink.