Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
“On this day the Church celebrates Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery” (Roman Missal). “Entrance” is the key to understanding the liturgy of Passion Sunday. We enter into Jerusalem with Christ. We enter into our holiest week. We enter into our final preparation for the Easter feast. Ordinarily when we go to Sunday Mass we enter the church one by one, as we arrive. But for the principal liturgy on this Sunday we enter the church together. We make a grand entrance. The parish gathers in another location (outside the church, for example, or in the school hall). There one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem is proclaimed. “The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’” (Mt 21:8-9). And then we “enter into” the Gospel. We go with Christ into Jerusalem. We process into the church.
Procession with Palms
This is one of our most joyful and triumphant processions of the entire year. As we gather on this Sunday we receive a branch of palm or olive (or other green plant). In many areas of the world these branches are prepared ahead of time at home, and are braided and tied with decorative ribbons and flowers. Often this activity involves the children and the whole family and causes a spirit of excitement and anticipation of the Sunday liturgy.
After we have processed into the church we hear one of the “suffering servant” poems (Is 50:4-7): “I gave my back to those who beat me, / my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; / my face I did not shield / from buffets and spitting.”
Next from Philippians (2:6-11) which, in a few verses, “summarizes” the meaning of Holy Week. “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself... becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”
From the Passion
The Gospel proclaimed on this day is one of the accounts of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew, Mark or Luke. (The Passion from the Gospel according to John is read each year on Good Friday.) In order to make the story more living and present, parishes have several readers: The priest or deacon speaks the words of Jesus, a second reader narrates, and a third reader proclaims the words of the other persons in the narrative. Often the whole assembly is invited to proclaim the words of the crowds—reminding us that it is indeed our story.
As the Passion is read we find ourselves going with Christ to Calvary and standing at the foot of the cross. We find ourselves calling out “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Yet only a moment ago, when we were entering the church, we were triumphantly singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” The contrast is striking. Is this not all too often our story? One moment I am full of good resolutions and promises to follow Christ; but when the times get hard, I find myself ready to crucify Jesus by my sins.
Entering more reflectively into the liturgies of Holy Week enables us to becoming better, more consistent disciples of Jesus.
The Palm Branches
The branches are blessed by the priest before the procession and kept as blessed objects in peoples’ homes. They are returned to the church to be burned for the ashes of Ash Wednesday. Many Cultures enhanced the beauty of the palm branches my weaving them into many objects that remind them of the passion of Christ. A cross, a crown, as well as objects of the triumph of the resurrection such as spring flowers.
Below we have several instructional videos on how to make these objects with the palm you receive on Palm Sunday, along with links to web sites with written instructions. Click on the image to open a separate window to view each video.
PALM WEAVING VIDEOS
|SOME ADVANCED EXAMPLES BY ARTIST GENE FEDELI|
|Additional Palm Weaving Links:|