Today we celebrate Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. At Catholic Masses and some Protestant services, people will process into church waving palms, celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We hear in our Scripture that as Jesus rides along on a donkey, people shout “Hosanna” and lay palm branches before his path.
In one respect, the scene seems like a cruel mockery because we know what awaits Jesus. As I pray with the scene, I imagine that many of the same people who should “Hosanna” as Jesus rides into Jerusalem will, in only a few days, scream out, “Crucify Him.”
I think there is an invitation here to reflect on the juxtaposition of these two events. Today will march into our churches, waving our palms and crying out, just as the people of Jerusalem did, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Then, as we will again on Good Friday, we will listen to a gospel account of The Passion of our Lord, in our turn, crying out Crucify Him.
We could treat it all as playacting, with us simply playing the roles of the crowds in the two scenes. Or we could use it for an opportunity for serious reflection, recognizing that our words and deeds each day either give glory to Jesus or contribute toward his suffering.
Some questions to consider:
When am I like one or another of those crowds?
Do I recognize and celebrate Jesus when I encounter Him?
Are there times when my words or actions are the equivalent of the crowds crying for Jesus’ crucifixion?
Note: For a similar invitation to reflection, see the post of Sr. Maria Elizabeth Nakku here.