By Martin Jumbam
The Universal Church celebrates Sunday, April 13, 2014, as Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, because the theme of Jesus’ suffering and death begins with the reading of the passion. Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. In the entrance antiphon we pray: “Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Amen.”
In all the churches of our diocese, as in churches throughout the world this day, the congregation begins by assembling in some suitable place outside the church from where the procession will move to the church. The priest blesses the palms, then proclaims the account of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem from the Gospel according to Matthew 21: 1-11. This is followed by a procession into church, with the people holding the blessed palms and singing festive songs. The blessing of the palms and the procession recall our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. The purpose of this ceremony is to involve us physically and through the material symbols in the commemoration of all that Holy Week means.
Shortly after the procession into the church, the theme of triumph changes radically with the reading of the passion narrative. Palm Sunday liturgy is devoted, therefore, more to the suffering of Jesus than to his triumphant reception by the people. By focusing on these events of Christ’s suffering, the church emphasizes the meaning of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday the church celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ passage from life to death to new life: the Paschal Mystery.