“Palm Sunday and the Story of the Other Palms”, by Fr. Joel

Following Jesus’ example of laying down His life for his loved ones, we may attain the fullness of His love to us by doing the same example – He lived for others.

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is a day of invitation for us, the faithful, to enter into the paschal mystery of Christ. It also depicts the solemn entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, proclaiming the passion that He is about to undertake. While the people are shouting “Hosanna to the King!”, what is behind those voices that reverberated through the hills and the gardens of Jerusalem?

The gospel this Sunday is from Mark 14:1-15:47. This is Mark’s version of the passion narrative of Jesus, which is considered the oldest written version that exists about Jesus’ suffering and death. It is believed and is accepted by biblical scholars that Luke’s and Matthew’s version of the narrative are all coming from that of Mark. Further, they said that it is the closest to the original, hence, not the original itself; and the narrative in itself is considered the core or the most important part of the whole gospel.

Following the events narrated in the gospel, one can notice how the many facets of the story mentioned are all interconnected to each other, and each event is adding more and more color, in its distinct capacity, to the over-all picture of the whole passion story. Beginning with the anointing of Jesus ( v.3-9), to His celebration of the Last Supper (the Passover-v.12-31), to His contemplation in the Garden of Gethsemane (v. 32-42), up to Peter’s denial (v.54,66-72); then to the centurion’s musings (15.21-41), and finally to His burial (v.42-47), all capture a symphonic nostalgia bringing the whole scene into the center of understanding, the reason behind Jesus’ selfless offering of His life for all.

In our celebration of this Palm Sunday, we are reminded of the “many other palms” which can speak of the whole narrative of the passion and suffering of Jesus. Let us remember the palms of those hands that anointed Jesus’ feet before He celebrated the Passover. It is good to remember the palms of the hands that clasped with the voice that said: “Take away this cup from me … “. We remember the palms of the hands that held the sword that struck the other ear. We remember the palms of those hands that helped Jesus carry the cross. Blessed are those palms that worked in the fields first, and held the
cross of Jesus sharing the burdens of human weight. Blessed are the palms of the centurion, that touched the body of Christ and the palms of the hands of Joseph of Arimathea, that brought the linen cloth and that which took down Jesus from the cross and the very palms of the hands that touched and wrapped Jesus’ body, as well as those palms that laid Him on the tomb. The story of the different palms other than the palms raised during that entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem is like a symphony, weaving the notes to a beautiful music, pleasing to man’s heart. And truly, such spirit is rooted on the very reason why Jesus allowed Himself to suffer and die – and that is LOVE.

Today is also Alay Kapwa Sunday. We are all reminded of the love and the life we can sacrifice for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Alay Kapwa involves self-giving, like those palms of the many hands willing to do their share, as reiterated to us in our gospel. Following Jesus’ example of laying down His life for his loved ones, we may attain the fullness of His love to us by doing the same example – He lived for others.

Today is also World Youth Day. Let us keep in mind our brothers, the many young people in our world today, who find it difficult to offer their time and best effort to God and to others. WE need to pray for their conversion. We need to accompany them realize their goals, not limited to one’s boasting of personal ego and pessimism and passivity. We need the palm of their hands willing to work for His kingdom.

The rites during the holy week which include the blessing and procession of palms, the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament after the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s passion on Good Friday and the Easter Vigil in all parish churches should be worthily done. The faithful should be instructed on the meaning and structure of these celebrations and should be encouraged to actively participate in order to experience the fruits of the encounter. It is good to give our hands to all these activities and volunteer to make the same more meaningful for us and for others. Let us join hands together and usher our community to this holy season of grace.

as published on April 1, 2012 Parish Bulletin