Jim Kenny’s Thoughts for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
The Catholic Palm Sunday Procession will begin on the other side of the Mount of Olives at the Franciscan Church of Bethphage just below the Pater Noster Church. The procession will walk down to the Church of All Nations. From there, it will continue, passing St. Steven’s Gate (the Lions Gate) to Saint Anne’s Church in the Old City. More than 25,000 pilgrims and an additional 35,000 to line the route to greet the participants with songs and blessings are expected. This procession is one of Jerusalem’s most interesting and colorful pilgrims’ events.
Parades and processions have always been part of worship in Jewish and Christian tradition. During Palm Sunday, churches having enough outside space, start the Palm Sunday liturgy with a procession of palm branches. I get nostalgic when I watch parades and processions. In Turks and Caicos we stated our Palm Sunday procession from downtown and had to inform the police so that the road was clear. Since becoming American, it is even more fun and means more to be at the July 4th parades and Veteran’s Day parades. I grew up watching a few parades and religious processions. The Remembrance Day Parade in Canada (November 11th) was always an enjoyable event. As a very young boy of 10, I carried the cross in the village procession in Italy with my grandfather.
Processions and parades are also the most normal way for the people to acclaim the victories and triumphs of their heroes and heroines. The people greet them with shouts and songs accompanied by instruments and, in so doing, they are able to take sensational pleasure and satisfaction in the triumphant achievement of their heroes and heroines. They share in it, almost as though they themselves had done what the hero or heroine had done. The accomplishment of a hero or heroine is in a strange way made present to the crowd.
In our day and our situations, when the parade is over the heroes and heroines usually fade away and are quickly forgotten. But not Jesus Christ whom we acclaim in today’s Palm Sunday procession. He will fade momentarily into his passion and death, but will rise again from the dead and live on. He lives today in our midst. Year after year, He again leads us into the Holy city, to Mount Calvary to die with Him and rise again with Him. Today Jesus lives, He lives now more than ever, and we follow and live with Him.
As we enter the most important week called ‘Holy Week’, we prepare ourselves with a greater intensity to enter into the mystery of Christ’s passion and death which will culminate in the celebration of the biggest Feast Day for all Christians.
For all of us Christians, Easter is the most significant Feast day. It is the Resurrection of Jesus that gives meaning and basis for our faith and our Christian vocation.
Let us make this Holy Week meaningful. May this be a significant time for the renewal of our faith and our relationship with Jesus. Let us also remember people for whom suffering is an everyday reality, may we reach out to them through our prayers, so that they experience healing, comfort, courage, and hope in Jesus. Let us live this Holy Week in profound reverence by spending time in prayer, taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and participating in the liturgies of Holy Week.
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