Growing in the Love of God and Following Him Faithfully
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Today, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we begin the celebration of the greatest and most important week of the liturgical year. Before the Second Vatican Council, Passion Sunday was celebrated and, a week afterwards, Palm Sunday. After the Second Vatican Council, the Church decided to unite these two celebrations. This is the reason that today is the only Sunday of the year in which two Gospels are read: one about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and one about His passion and death.

At the beginning of this Mass, in the first Gospel Reading, we heard that Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. As they approached the Mount of Olives, the Lord sent two of His disciples to a village close by so that they could bring the colt of an ass that they would find tied up there. When they brought it to Him they placed their cloaks on it, Jesus mounted, and they continued their pilgrimage towards the Holy City.

On the road, as they approached the gates of the city, they encountered many people who had come from different places and who were also on the way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. When these fellow pilgrims saw Jesus approach, mounted on a colt, they began to cheer Him, shouting out “Hosanna!” At the same time they waved branches and shouted out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Maybe these people remembered the words of the prophet Zechariah who, centuries before, had prophesied that the people would recognize the awaited Messiah because he would enter triumphantly into Jerusalem mounted on the colt of an ass (Zechariah 9:9). The prophet also prophesied that the Messiah would be acclaimed by a people who afterwards would rise up against him and seek his death. Jesus knew that this triumphant entry into the City of David would be the beginning of all that had to occur during what today we call Holy Week. Even though the Lord entered Jerusalem triumphantly, He surely felt, at the same time, sadness. He saw so much enthusiasm among the people and how they acclaimed Him but he also knew that these same people, a few days later, would reject Him and ask for His death, shouting, “Crucify him!”

This Palm Sunday in the Lord’s Passion begins as a day of celebration and joy. We enter into the Holy Mass in procession as we sing and carry our palm branches. Later, as we listen to the Second Gospel Reading, we feel sad as we meditate on the terrible passion and death of Our Lord. What makes us feel this way is the sure knowled that Jesus took up His Cross to gain for us our salvation from sin. We are all guilty of making His suffering necessary.

Sisters and brothers, we have already reached the end of Lent. Many Cathlolics gathered in churches around the world have prepared throughout this holy season with fasting, giving alms, and doing penance. And, surely, by this date, they have made a good confession, renewing themselves through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. These are precisely the means that we Christians use to penetrate more deeply into the real meaning of Holy Week and live it more intensely.

Neverthless, if some people have been caught off guard and are just now realizing that we are in the last days of Lent and that this is a time for a spiritual renewal, let me remind them that there is still time for that renewal to take place. This coming Thursday Lent ends as we begin to live the Holy Triduum, the three days in which we commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. While it is true that during Lent we should constantly meditate on the Passion and Death of Our Lord, it is also true that we should also think often about His glorious Resurrection. The events we commemorate during the Holy Triduum, from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, should show us why we need to grow in the love of God and to follow Him faithfully.