Thursday, April 6, 2017

Recollecting Palm Sunday

Jesus' Entrance to Jerusalem

As a child, Palm Sunday was my favorite day in the Church year. This was not because of the great revelation of God's Kingdom in Matthew's Gospel or because it marked the beginning of Holy Week. No, it was my favorite day because it was the only day I was given something in church to take home.

Every year I looked forward to Palm Sunday with great excitement and I looked forward to receiving a palm blade to call my own. But after grasping the green and yellow palm blades with my own hands, my mother would transform the palms we received at the entrance of the church into crosses for  me. So, the palm blades were no longer simply palm leafs cut from a tree but now resembled the crosses of Christ. The crosses my mother were pinned on me and she wore on her own coats and dresses. Finally, some of the crosses adorned our home. So for a week, these palm crosses reminded us of the suffering of Christ and of God's love for the world. A love so strong and radiant that even death itself could not defeat it. On Easter, because the palms were blessed with holy water by a priest, they could not just be thrown as with the garbage, They had to be burned until they were ash and then the ashes were buried in the ground,

Palm Cross

Palm Ashes

Even as I have matured in age and grown in faith, Palm Sunday remains one of my favorite days in the Church year. The excitement of having a palm blade to hold on to and take home has not disappeared, And, I am looking forward to taking a few palms home with me again this Sunday. However, my awareness and anticipation of Palm Sunday has evolved. My understanding of Palm Sunday has changed from a day of receiving an item to hold, to a day in which we mark Christ's outpouring and sacrificial love throughout Holy Week. From Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem to his Last Supper to his Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus does not stop giving himself for the life of the world. Jesus does not stop loving and caring for those around him, even when he was abandoned and beaten. it seems that his love and care for the world only increased. It seems like the more that humanity abandons Christ, the more he gives of himself.

Palm Sunday and Holy Week invites all Christians to remember, even experience, Christ's love, suffering, and rising. Palm Sunday sets forth our path to walk in the way of Jesus and to recount Christ's faithfulness and love for the world. On Sunday morning with pieces of palm branches in our hands, Christians all over the world will join those who with great joy and hope shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

Recalling the words of Saint Paul, let us remember that If God is for us, who is against us? 

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