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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

300554_178897915520950_121944477882961_366183_1821747012_nThe first big day of Holy Week is Palm Sunday,the day that wecommemorate Jesus entering into Jerusalem.  There are a few different ways in which a community can celebrate the beginning of Mass on Palm Sunday but they all begin with the blessing of palms.  As Catholics enter the church or gather around the back of the church everyone is given a palm (either before or after the blessing).  As we gather and listen to one of two Gospels that we will hear at Mass that day we are not just remembering what happen almost 2,000 years ago but rather we are bringing the past into the present.  It is a special way of recalling past events with the help of signs, symbols, gestures, and our own imaginations.  Jewish people use this special type of memory every year also as they celebrate Passover.

The first Gospel that we have today is an account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  In each account we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and people spreading the cloaks on the road before Him.  Only Luke does not mention people cutting down branches (palms) and laying them on the road also.  The people heralded Jesus as the Messiah by singing: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10).  But what type of Messiah was Jesus to be?  One thought was that the Messiah would be a political and military leader who would help through off the Roman yoke like Joshua, Gideon, or Samson. Other ideas flourished around the idea that He would reestablish the Davidic line of kings and direct people back to the true worship of Yahweh.

One interesting thought is that Jesus rode in on a donkey because a donkey was considered an animal of peace where a horse was considered an animal of war (i.e. a war horse) and thus Jesus was showing that He came as the Prince of Peace.  It is also interesting to note that in all the Gospels accounts that Jesus does not own the donkey or the upper room but rather that all his needs are met by some sort of divine providence.  We should remember that Jesus promised us that God would take care of all our needs also.  Jesus receiving all that He needs is also a continuation of a theme of Jesus borrowing from others to complete His ministry.  He borrows Peter’s boat for His pulpit, the loaves and fishes from a young boy to feed 5,000 and now a donkey from an unnamed man.  He will eventually borrow even a tomb.

As if joining in that original procession the priest and all liturgical ministers (and sometimes with the people following process into the Church after the palms are blest.  We proclaim Christ to be our victor and our sovereign.  The procession at Mass should always remind us of the joy that we should have that Christ (Emmanuel: God with Us) has come into our midst) and of a military parade proclaiming Christ’s victory over sin and death.

The other important thing to note is that on Palm Sunday for our second Gospel of the day (think of it as a double main event) we proclaim one of the accounts of the Passion of Christ according to Mathew, Mark, or Luke.  We will proclaim the Passion of Christ according to John on Good Friday.  It is often the tradition to break up the parts of the passion so that there are at least four proclaimers: the Christ figure (normally the priest), the narrator, the voice, and the crowd.  Once again this is done to make us physically present at this historical event.  We are able to listen to each word, witness Judas’s betrayal, hear Peter’s denial, witness the contempt and abuse the chief priests, Herod, Pilate, and the soldiers heap upon Jesus.  Most importantly though.  We are able to yell “Crucify Him” with the crowds and admit that we helped nail Jesus to the Cross because of our sins.  The painter Salvador Dali in one of his paintings of the Crucifixion intentionally left out the nails to declare that it was not the nails that held Jesus to the Cross but rather His love for us and His desire to forgive us.  We as Catholics believe that if only one person needed to be saved that God’s love for that one person would be so strong that He would have endured the cross for that one person.  Have you sinned?  Then you are responsible for Christ’s death on the Cross.  The Good News is that Jesus came to save us and not to condemn us. While the reading of the Passion takes us all the way up to the death of Christ and his burial in the tomb, Holy Week has really just begun.

 

—  Guide to Holy Week

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