Saturday, 8 April 2006

Musings on Palm Sunday

Today, we celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He is greeted by jubilant ‘Hosannas’ and the waving of palms, which are kingly emblems of joy and victory. Yet we have the advantage of hindsight – we know that those Hosannas will change, within days, into shouts of ‘Crucify him!’ How often we do the same! We know that it is so easy to praise God with our lips one moment and then crucify Him again and again through our sinful actions. Today we ask forgiveness for those times and pray that we will be granted a share in Christ’s death and resurrection.

As we enter Jerusalem with Jesus waving palms, we begin Holy Week. It’s vital that we make this week distinctive from other weeks. It should be a holy week; even if we’re working or even going on holiday, we need to take the time to reflect on the drama of Christ’s passion and what it means for us. A good way to do this would be to read at home one of the Passion Gospels at our own pace. I often supplement this by listening to one of the many pieces of music written about these events – for example, Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion or Handel’s Messiah, much of which will be aired on radio this week.

Most importantly, we should attend the important and beautiful services this coming week, especially on Thursday evening, Friday afternoon and Saturday night. Remember that if you’re working on Good Friday, there is still an obligation to fast and abstain from meat.

Finally, let’s bring all these wonderful events into our daily lives. I always like the custom of keeping the palms from this Mass and putting them around the house – behind a picture or crucifix, in the kitchen or the bedroom. They remind us through the year of the salvation that has been won for us – for you and me – and in this we can truly rejoice! ‘Hosanna! Blessings on Him who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the Highest Heavens!’

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