by Rev. Fr. T. George, Ireland
The most solemn week in the church's calendar called Passion Week begins with Palm Sunday. It is on this Sunday that the church uniquely commemorates an event, which happened in the life of Christ when he was on earth, marking the beginning of the climax of his incarnation. This is the day on which the church uniquely celebrates the triumphant entry of Jesus through the gates of Jerusalem in his capacity as a King. It was the fulfillment of a prophecy that recorded in the book of Zachariah 9:9. Quite unusually, this king found a donkey and rode on it expressing his humility, though he was one who had the capacity to travel on the wings of the wind. (Psalm 18:10 b). The holy indifference of Jesus to pomp and to the extravaganza of the common royal grandeur is something that has to be emulated. His entry into the City of Peace had two purposes.
One was to be a corrective force in the process of purification of the corrupted system that prevailed in the Temple of Jerusalem those days. The second was to drink the bitter juice of agony and suffering by accepting a painful death on the cross of Calvary. His blood-shed death on the cross was meant to be a ransom for the sin of humanity before the God of Justice. In order to begin this mission, he wanted for a donkey to travel on, which was considered to be the vehicle of the ordinary people. By doing so, he once again identified himself with the life of ordinary people though he was an extraordinary man.
In the Bible, we read that the donkey chosen by Jesus was one which had been tied up and had never been ridden. (Mark 11:2). The disciples were asked to untie that donkey and to bring it near to their master- Jesus- who very badly needed that simple animal. A Christian is one who is always supposed to be a bearer of Christ. One, who likes to carry Jesus in their life, has to own a chaste heart as the colt mentioned here was one that had never been ridden.
Let us think of ourselves. Are we able to certify that our minds are chaste and pure without letting someone else ruling us? Aren't we being driven by petty gods like beauty, money, and place of honour in society? Where are we right now? Aren't we tied up like that tiny colt in our own worldly affairs such as over time duty, tuition of children, attending of social gatherings for fun and pleasure? Are we able to be sent for Christ's need? Do we get time amidst our hectic schedule to carry Christ in our personal life and to travel with him to bring salvation for the world? We, the Church who is bound to be aware of our calling as the disciples of Jesus, has the responsibility to bring all those who are still tied up in the materialistic world to the feet of Jesus- the great master of spirituality. The heart of Christ still throbs for the souls of his creation.
Through each day of the Passion Week, we go from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the Palm Sunday, to the joy of Holy Thursday, through the darkness of Gethsemane, into the mock trial in Pilate's courtyard and forward to Golgotha where all seems lost. The drama of the first Palm Sunday unfolds as the crowd, wild with excitement, spread cloaks and palm branches in Christ's pathway as he enters the gates of Jerusalem on the humble donkey. The scenes of jubilation suggest the kind of nationalistic enthusiasm that often surfaced during festival time in that great city. Their joyful singing unmistakably proclaims him as Messiah. In a manner quite unusual for a man who has shunned notoriety throughout his life, Jesus willingly accepts their acclaim. He has no longer a reason to keep his identity secret because in less than a week he will die. The unfolding events change triumph into tragedy as the people's cheers turn into jeers and he exchanges a donkey for a wooden cross.
We see that there were many on lookers on the road to Calvary who kept a safe distance between themselves and the saving events they witnessed. The gospels demand that as followers of Christ, we cannot simply stand idly by and ignore the meaningful liturgy of this great week, or be mere spectators as if we were watching a play. It invites us to see where we fit into the events, to discover what type of disciple we are, and what role we assume.
The beautiful liturgy of the Palm Sunday is pregnant with theological insights and saturated with melodious music. The faithful in the church holding the palm branches during the holy service has two connotations. (1) They are given an opportunity to join with the jovial company of the people of Jerusalem who gathered to receive the colt-mounted Son of God (St. John 12:13). (2) They are given an opportunity to join in the enormous crowd praising God by holding palm branches in their hands as seen in the book of revelation chapter 7: 9-12. By the active participation in the liturgy of this Sunday, we make a travel by time-machine to the past time and to the future time. Considering the significance of this Sunday, let us, therefore, prepare ourselves prayerfully to partake in the holy worship wholeheartedly.
God bless us.
Great Lent Resources - Home
Devotional Thoughts for Palm Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Palm Sunday Sermon
by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Devotional Thoughts for Hosanna Sunday - Palm Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Devotional thoughts for Palm Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
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