Palm Sunday Mass may appear as suffering from a split personality disorder. We began our service with the blessing of palms and the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem. Yet, soon after this the tone became darker through the recounting of Our Lord’s Passion. But if we look closely, we can see that the joy of the first Palm Sunday and the sorrow of the Passion are two aspects of the same life-changing week.
The people who hailed Jesus with shouts of joy are the same ones who screamed at the top of their lungs, ‘Let him be crucified!’
The disciples who followed Jesus, complacently feeling part of his privileged entourage, are the ones how desert Him in his hour of need.
We, who often claim to be following Christ, are the ones who daily become despondent, petulant, condemning Him with same indifference shown by Pilate, and disowning Him as St Peter did.
We are all part of the story; here, today, this Holy Week.
Silence and contemplation are key features of the week we begin today. We are invited to still ourselves and to enter with great humility in the mysteries of Christ’ suffering. This in turn will give us greater, truer joy in celebrating his resurrection on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Every day of the week there will be an occasion for corporate prayer and meditation, with the most important celebrations of the year taking part in the Easter Triduum, that is in the three holy days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. On Thursday night we will witness to the birth of the Church out of Jesus’ self-giving love in the institution of the Eucharist. We will have a meal together, we will re-enact the washing of the feet, we will celebrate the Eucharist, and we will watch for some time with Jesus.
On Friday afternoon, we will gather at the foot of the Cross to hear St John’s account of the Passion. We will venerate the cross, make solemn intercessions for the whole world, and receive Holy Communion.
On Saturday night, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by carefully listening to the Scripture, by blessing the new fire, by blessing the paschal candle (symbol of the risen Christ), and by renewing our baptismal promises.
Sunday will come as the climax of our celebrations and our Parish Mass will see us gathered around Our Risen Lord in worship of Him who rising from the dead has brought hope of unending life to all creation.
This week is the most important week of the year, the most important week of your life.
Consider well how the disciples behaved during this week and see yourself as one of them. Consider this week as a retreat; still yourself before the Lord; and commit yourself to the life-changing events we will celebrate.