Palm Sunday A
As we mark the beginning of the holiest week of the Church’s year, we do so in a way we have never done before – with our churches closed and the services continuing with only the priest or with one or two assisting him. As we listen to the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem online, or perhaps on the radio or read it for ourselves, we will hear it in a different way from other years. We can open our ears and our hearts to what we hear in this reading and in the Passion that follows shortly after. We may consider these days to be hard, and they are for so many, but we know that God is with us in it all, just as He was with Jesus in His Passion.
As Jesus rides into Jerusalem He is honoured by the great crowds who spread their cloaks on the ground and wave branches taken from the trees while singing ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’ Contrast this scene with later in the week when another crowd – with maybe some of the same people in it – shout ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’
In between it reads something like a modern-day soap opera – betrayal by friends, secret meetings, people following others, ‘family’ meals that end in disharmony, bewilderment, fear and ultimately a ‘trial’.
The story of Holy Week is a very human one – the main characters, apart from Jesus, are flawed human beings. Judas, Peter, Pilate all play a major part, but others, too, are part of the scene. We may see ourselves in each of them – to a greater or lesser extent. While we may never have betrayed anyone for money or denied knowing them, we may have been weak in our dealings with others and not stood up for what we know to be right. We may not have stood in judgement as did Pilate but we judge people all the time – even if only in our thoughts and not in our words and deeds.
Then there’s Mary and John standing at the foot of the cross. Mary, a devoted, mother, with Jesus to the end – was living out the sword piercing her heart as prophesied by Simeon when she and Joseph brought Jesus to be presented in the Temple as a baby. John, a loyal friend to Jesus, and to Mary, who perhaps didn’t understand everything but, like Mary, pondered it all in his heart so that we have his beautiful writings in his gospel and letters.
There is much to dwell on in the characters of Holy Week but ultimately we would do well to spend time with Jesus Himself - at the Last Supper, in the Garden and in prison, on the road to Calvary and finally as He hung on the cross for 3 hours. Jesus’ sacrifice, made out of love for each one of us, is the ultimate sign of His love. Spending time with Jesus in this week that is Holy will prepare us more fully for the glory of His Resurrection.
One of the hardest things about this virus is that people are not allowed to be in hospital or a hospice with their loved ones. For those whose loved ones die, this is further compounded by the necessary regulations surrounding funerals. As we go through this Holy Week we remember them all, and those who have died, in prayer.
Sr. Margaret Mattison