We begin our Passion (Palm) Sunday liturgy with the proclamation of Matthew 21:1-11, of Jesus’ triumphant procession into Jerusalem upon a colt, while:
a “very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others, cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds proceeding him and those following kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.”
It is quite a scene. Imagine being one of Jesus’ followers, seeing your teacher and friend being hailed like a king.
The Gospel tells us that the people in the crowd spread their cloaks along the road. The spreading of one’s cloak was symbolic of laying one’s life down before the passerby. In today’s office of readings, Saint Andrew of Crete gives a another view:
Let us run to accompany Jesus as he hastens toward Jerusalem, and imitate those who met him then…let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel. (Oratio 9 in ramos palmarum: PG 97, 990-994)
Today, as we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. How easy it is to get caught up in the joyous moment, celebrating the man who rose Lazarus from the dead. But in just a few days, the crowd will turn on Jesus and condemn him to be crucified. As we journey with Jesus this week, from Jerusalem to Golgatha, let us consciously consider what we place before Him in our prayer. As St. Andrew reminds us, “Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments…but…by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish.”
During this Holy Week, let us examine the souls that Jesus purchased with the price of His blood. May our reflection invite us turn our lives over to Jesus anew. Let us be holy as the Lord is holy.
Blessed Holy Week!
Ed Morrissey: By the end of the week, not even all of His disciples stood by him as he was put to death.
Father Acervo: So as we head into Holy Week, let’s consider two things…
Matthew Higgins: Making Every Friday “Good”
Elizabeth Scalia: A Palm Sunday of Stark Decision
Sr Lisa Marie: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord