Entering Holy Week

Palm Sunday
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

Today the Church is celebrating Palm Sunday, Palm Sunday reminds us of the glorious and triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. As Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowds greeted him with shouts of joy and proclaimed him as the messianic king. They spread their cloaks on the ground and placed the palm branches on the street and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The donkey was a symbol of peace and those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving at victory or triumph.

In the second reading of today. The hymn tells us that even though he was divine, he took willingly the human form for our sake. He is the new Adam who became obedient and did not cling to his divinity and, He is the servant of God who accepted sufferings for the sake of humanity. Finally, he died on the cross a death of shame and humiliation. That death became the sign of triumph and glory and the means of salvation for the world.

The Gospel tells us of his victory and reveals in painful detail the physical sufferings of Jesus. There is rejection, pain, misunderstanding, and Humiliation and yet through it, all Jesus stands firm, faithful to God till the end. In the process, there is a transformation. The leader becomes a servant, shame turns to honor, mockery becomes praise, fear turns to trust, abandonment becomes love, despair turns into hope, and above all death blossoms into new life.

In today’s Passion narrative, Luke builds up to five basic events that take place during the last few days of the earthly life of Jesus. The first is that Jesus shares his final meal with the disciples. Second, Jesus is arrested by his enemies. Third, Jesus is subjected to the so-called Jewish trial. Fourth, Jesus is subjected to the Roman trial and is condemned to death. Fifth, Jesus is crucified on the Cross. He dies on the Cross and is buried soon after.

We must be ready to surrender our lives to Jesus during this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of our life as our Lord and Savior, singing “Hosanna.” Today, we receive palm branches at the Divine Liturgy. Let us take them to our homes and put them in a place where we can always see them. Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, which Christ is the King of our hearts, and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try to make time for Him in our daily life. Let us remember that He is the One with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded further that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, and all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.

This week, let us reflect upon the mystery of the Passion of Jesus, our King, as we prepare ourselves to commemorate His glorious Resurrection. Let us remember that Jesus died for our sins, your sins, my sins. Let us be most thankful to the Lord Jesus in thoughts, words, and in actions. And may the Spirit of Jesus be with us during the coming week as we relive the last few days in the life of Jesus on earth. This is a perfect opportunity for us to learn about Divine love so we too may grow in the love of Jesus by the grace of the Heavenly Father.

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