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Monday, 14 March 2016

Commentary on Palm/Passion Sunday Celebration in English (Abridged Version)

May the name of the Lord be praised both now and forever. 

I welcome each and every one of us to today’s celebration. Today is a red letter day as far as Christianity is concerned. We are being launched today into the terrains of the holiest of all the weeks; the week of our salvation. The singular spectacular nature of this week is evident in the various synonyms with which it is addressed. These include Greater week, Holy week, Paschal week, Passion week, Authentic week etc. St John Chrysostom described this week as a very special week because in it, our Lord Jesus Christ broke the greatest jinx- the jinx of death and doom; jinx of our servitude to sin. Coming to today’s celebration, it may interest us to know that today is Palm Sunday. This celebration dates back to 4th century. It may also interest us to know that this same 4th century witnessed the radical recognition of Christianity as a legal religion by Emperor Constantine. Then, the early Christians go up to Mount Olive in files, singing and from there, they go up to Jerusalem with the Bishop. With these, they re-enact the event that took place in the days of Christ.

Today being Palm Sunday marks the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus came riding on a donkey which had not been ridden by anyone. He was received with great applause. The people were spreading their clothes on the ground. It is note worthy that according to Jewish tradition, only men of honor are received as such. An eloquent example of such reception was given in the coronation of King Jehu son of Jehoshaphat (cf  2kings 9:13). The people also acclaimed Jesus with palms.

Today’s celebration is loaded with symbolic events, by riding on a donkey instead of a horse, Jesus shows himself a peaceful king rather than a warrior. The palm also signifies victory and peace after war. (cf. Rev. 7:9). It was also used by the Maccabbees in celebrating their victory over their enemies (cf. Maccabbees 13:15)
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as King could be seen as his entry into our hearts as the King of our soul. Have we made our souls befitting for the reception of this noble king? The Palm symbolizes the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over our greatest enemy the devil. We are no longer slaves to sin. This is to be concretized through our actions. The donkey which was loosened from the knot symbolizes our freedom from the friendship fetters of sin and sorrow.

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ, as we celebrate  Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as a peaceful king, let us also bear in mind that Christ also seek to enter triumphantly as a king to reign with his peace in our souls. It behooves us to then to open our hearts, i.e those ancient doors so that the king of glory may enter… (cf. Ps. 24) like the Jews who after heralding Christ with pomp and pageantry went on Good Friday to crucify him, may we not after singing and hailing Christ as the King of our soul, go forward to crucify him with our willful sins. The ball is now on our court:

This is the order of Today’s celebration:

          The Choristers would intone the entrance hymn-Gloria Laus.

The Priest would welcome the congregation after which he would bless the palms and then sprinkle the holy water.

A reading from the gospel would be taken but this reading is different from the one to be taken inside the Church. After the reading, the priest would give a little reflection.

We then move in files into the Church with mouths full of songs.

When we enter inside the church, the Priest would say the collect which would launch us into the mass.


Processionary Gospel:
In this gospel, St Luke narrated the events of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This triumphant entry on a donkey is a tacit proclamation of the peaceful nature of Jesus’ kingship.

1st Reading:
In this reading, Prophet Isaiah graphically outlined the ordeals of the true disciple. The life of every Christian is not a bed of roses but in all these, we are more than conquerors.
2nd Reading:
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul presented Christ as the paradigm of Christianity. He humbled himself and suffered but God exalted him
In this gospel, Luke gives a thorough and omniscient account of the painful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we not loose of the fact that he freely underwent these painful experiences in order to save us from eternal doom.

Let us remember once more that though the holy mass is for everyone, the reception of Holy Communion is only for Catholics who are in state of grace.

          We are reminded that the palms in our hand are sacred, since they have been blessed and as such must be handled well. Thus, we should carefully with respect preserve it for it would be used during next year’s ash  Wednesday celebration.

NB: Announce the time for the Triduum ceremonies

Credit: Innocent Chukwuma (2014)

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