On Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) the Church enters upon the mystery of its crucified, buried, and risen Lord, who, by his entrance into Jerusalem, gave a glimpse of his own majesty. Christians carry branches as a sign of the royal triumph that Christ won by his acceptance of the cross. Saint Paul says: ‘Provided we suffer with him in order that we might be glorified with him,’ the link between these two aspects of the paschal mystery should stand out clearly in the liturgical celebration and catechesis of Palm Sunday (Ceremonial of Bishops, 263).
In preparing for next week’s liturgical celebration, the Passion/Palm Sunday entrance is not only our revisiting the historical event of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It is also the Church’s entry into Holy Week, holding firmly to the majestic character of Jesus Christ who reigns supreme in faithfulness to God, even in death.
It is unclear who was in the crowd that day. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke present the crowd as those who went ahead of him as they entered the city and Matthew cites that the whole city of Jerusalem did not know him (Mat 21:10). John’s Gospel presents a crowd who were following Jesus because he had raised Lazarus from the dead. Presumably, it is a different crowd – the ones who did not know Jesus - who later called for his crucifixion.
As we prepare ourselves to enter into Holy Week in these final days of Lent, Palm/Passion Sunday becomes the day where Jesus Christ’s followers – the ones who know him – honour the king who comes to bring triumph over our greatest enemy, death.
Let our commitment to him be sincere and enliven our desire to stand with Jesus, even when the going gets tough. He, who is the victorious one, comes to gather a people to himself. We are that people who draw the unknowing crowds towards the Saviour and who continue to proclaim the presence of his Kingdom. Fr Bob