Palm Sunday 2015
Today is commonly known as Palm Sunday. The celebration of the Paschal Mystery begins with commemorating the triumphal entrance of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem amidst songs and praises by the people who greeted Him shouting: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Why is it called “Palm Sunday”? What has a “palm” anything to do with Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection? The drama of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery involves a lot of symbolism. “Palm” is one of these symbols. Contemplate on this powerful imagery: from the “palms” of olive branches or palm trees that we hold on Palm Sunday through the “palms” of our sinful hands that symbolize our wicked deeds to the “palms” of Jesus nailed on the cross, -- in all these we experience God’s love for us!
The Palms of Praise. Today, we carry branches of olive or palm trees and we greet Jesus, in the image of the priest, as He enters the sanctuary. The “palms” recall the palm branches that the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. But actually, the palms symbolize the attitude of praising God.
To praise and worship God is our first obligation because it is the reason for our being, the motive behind our existence. Why do we exist in this world? To know and love God. To praise and worship Him all the days of our lives. Our life is heaven is a life without end praising and worshipping God unceasingly. If we want to enter heaven, we have to practice it here on earth by offering continual praise and worship to God.
How do we praise and worship God? Through our good works! More than just bringing palms to the Church today, what pleases God are not the physical “palms” that you carry and wave, but your heart that is full of praise and gratitude to Him. So, let a clean and contrite heart, a repentant and grateful heart, be your “palm branches” today, as you stand before the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Be grateful to God. Be sorry for your sins. In thanking God and in asking pardon, you praise and worship Him. That’s the “Palms of Praise” that is pleasing to God!
The Palms of our Sins. The Prophet Isaiah, in the First Reading, describes the painful experience of the Suffering Servant in these words: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” Our attention is focused now on the actions beat, pluck and buffet. What do they have in common? One thing: they are done using the palm of our hands! We beat someone using our palm; we pluck someone’s beard using our palm; we attack someone with buffets using our palm. Our “palm” symbolizes our offenses against God. How many times we have beaten God’s will by following our own will, or plucked the beard of His patience, or attacked with buffets His goodness through our sinful acts?
The people who carried the “Palms of Praise” during the triumphal entry of Jesus are the same people who “beat Him, plucked His beard and buffeted Him” using the “Palms of their Sinfulness” during the Passion! Beware of converting your pious devotion a source of self-righteousness that makes you judgmental of other people’s weakness! Just because you are doing God’s will should not be a reason for you to despise others in their defects! Beware of self-righteousness and vanity!
The Palms of Jesus Nailed on the Cross. In order to avoid self-righteousness and vanity, let us always be aware of the “Palm of our Sinfulness”. But let us look at our palms filled with sinful acts side by side with the “Palms of Jesus nailed on the cross!” When you look at yourself in your sinfulness, you might also cry out, like in the Responsorial Psalm, “My God, why have you abandoned me?”
Sometimes, when we see that our sins are repeated, we think that we are a hopeless case. We say to ourselves: “I won’t go to confession anymore, because I still commit the same favourite sin again and again”. But do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. God does not abandon us in our sinfulness. Instead, when He saw the “palms of our sins”, He placed on the side the bloody “palms of Jesus”, nailed on the cross. Jesus, who, as the Second Reading reminds us, “was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God; rather, He emptied Himself… by becoming obedient even to death on a cross”.
So, do not be ashamed or afraid to confront your “palms of sins” as you carry the “palms of praise” this Palm Sunday, because the “Palms of Jesus nailed on the cross” will wash away your sins through His blood. And you will indeed offer a worthy praise and worship to God, the Father, through Him, in your good works. In order to do that, follow the path of the P-A-L-M-S, that is:
P – Praise God in your charitable works.
A – Allow God to change you this Holy Week.
L – Lower your pride so that His grace can penetrate.
M – Make room for others in your heart.
S – Submit your will to God’s will.
Have a Blessed Palm Sunday to all!