Palm Sunday might be one of the moments of the year when that peculiar lingering bittersweetness of the Gospel is strongest, perhaps along with the feast of the Holy Innocents.
All of the Easter period is a long bittersweet moment. We march–as Jesus did–towards both the searing pain of the Passion and the glory of the Resurrection. We fast and deprive ourselves, but for joy.
Here is the entrance of Christ, the King of Kings, into Jerusalem. On a donkey, according to Scripture and befitting a King of humility. Jesus is surrounded by joy, but He–and we–know that He is headed for the Cross. And the ones bearing the palms, cheering him, are the ones who, a week later, will shout for him to be crucified. We bear the palms, and we shout “Crucify Him!”
Jesus, sitting on this donkey, surrounded by mirth and joy, and what must have been the sadness and even distress in his heart, as he rode up to that city, that city He loved among all cities, and where He would spend His last week–even His disciples around Him, overjoyed and oblivious.
Indeed, all of us crucified our Lord and God. We are the Jerusalemites, who cheer Him one day, and crucify Him the next.
Palm Sunday is a bittersweet day indeed, but it is the first step on the path to freedom, the path of Holy Week.
Now what is left is to meditate, contemplate, and repent–that is to say, to turn around.
- Excellent liturgies and meditations on Holy Week from Gabriel Blanchard
- Fr Robert Barron’s excellent exegetical reflection on Palm Sunday
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto; sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper. Amen.