Today is Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. I look forward to this day each Lent. I like our Catholic tradition of beginning our Mass with the blessing and distributing of the palms. This is the prayer of blessing:
Almighty God, we pray you bless these branches and make them holy. Today we joyfully acclaim Jesus our Messiah and King. May we reach one day the happiness of the new and everlasting Jerusalem by faithfully following him who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Our pastor blessed the palms outside the front door of our church and then all who wished processed inside carrying their palms and singing “Hosanna to the Son of David.”
I also look forward to receiving palms so I can weave them. When I returned from church I placed our palms in water to make them more pliable for weaving. I have a limited repertoire of patterns, actually just one, and it looks like this:
Blessed palms are sacramentals or holy objects and are to be treated with reverence. I place mine in vases in different rooms in my house where I keep a statue of Mary, a creche, and a crucifix.
This Sunday is also the the day that one of the Passion narratives is proclaimed. We heard the one from the Gospel of Saint Luke. Just this month I became a lector in my parish and today I had the privilege of participating in the Gospel reading of the Passion. My role was to read the words of Saint Peter, Pontius Pilate, both the good and bad thieves who were crucified next to Jesus, and the centurion. Ideally, I think, the role ought to have been assigned to a man, because each person is a man. A woman’s voice sounds dissonant.
I paid more attention to those words because of my role. The words of Pontius Pilate made more of an impression on me as I prepared to read them than in the past when I simply listened. For example, Pilate implied that Jesus was innocent three times:
- Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, “I find this man not guilty.”
- I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod…. So no capital crime has been committed by him.
- Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime.“
Clearly Pilate was trying to dissuade the chief priests and crowds from having Jesus killed. But reluctantly he acquiesced, probably out of fear.
Because this Holy Week is embedded in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Jesus’ words of mercy towards His tormentors stand out.
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
There is a lesson here for each of us. Have a blessed Holy Week.