††††††††††† PALM SUNDAY


††††††††††† Pilgrimages made to Jerusalem from the earliest times, especially after the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, aroused interest in the Lordís earthly life and influenced the Christian liturgy. Jerusalemís liturgical practice of the Palm Sunday procession and Adoration of the Cross entered into the Roman rite. (The Way of the Cross entered into popular piety.)


††††††††††† We can uncover layers of meaning in our liturgy of Palm Sunday:


Old Testament prophecy, especially Zechariah 9, is basic. The Messiah will establish the reign of God, not by force, but humbly.


The expectations of the people at the time were running high. The Jews expected that Jesus would oust the Romans and set up the messianic kingdom.


The disciples of Jesus expected the same.


The prospects of Jesus, faced with the actual situation, were most important. What Jesus understood of the Messiah, not as an army general but as the Suffering Servant of God, determined the direction of events, from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection.


Finally, the expectations of people today:


Some advocate armed and violent resistance to injustice and oppression, thus aligning themselves with the Jews of Jesusí day. They aim at the overthrow of governments and political systems.


Others advocate non-violent resistance, which can lead to their imprisonment by unjust governments. They aim at the inner transformation of the conscience of leaders and people, thus aligning themselves with Jesus.


As Christians, we know only one Saviour who was rejected and crucified. He alone opens the way to the kingdom of God. If we take the first step with Jesus in going up to Jerusalem, there will be no turning back. To join the Palm Sunday procession is to embrace publicly the way of Jesus.


The theme of the Palm Sunday Mass is the sufferings of our Lord, but not forgetting his successful endurance. We read the account of the Passion in view of the Resurrection. Christís victory came only through the cross.


The unifying theme of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter is expressed in: ďHe humbled himself ... God highly exalted him.Ē His humiliation was in taking on human suffering and identifying himself with all who suffer.