Welcome to Holy Week! These seven days are considered the most somber or sober days of the year for Christians. This is the time we seek to follow the Lord Jesus more closely through his suffering, death and resurrection, clinging to him so as to reach the glory of Heaven. To help us prayerfully enter in these days, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing invites you to join him each day for a mini-retreat as we step aside with the Lord and allow his grace to fill our hearts. Today, March 28, Bishop Boyea meditates upon Palm Sunday. Here is what he has to say:
Even though it is often truncated or even avoided all together, the heart of this Sunday celebration, this Palm Sunday, is the procession. It is the rare parish which engages all of those in attendance in such a procession. So, even if we are not physically moving today as part of the liturgy, let us at least be spiritually processing in honor of Christ the King.
The Gospels are regularly pointing out how Jesus journeyed. He had no place to lay his head. He was on mission from the Father and that mission took him to Jerusalem and eventually to the cross and the resurrection. We are called to follow him. It may seem that this is just a walk toward Calvary. However, we know that the events of Good Friday were not the end. So, our participation in Christ’s pilgrimage is really a walk of triumph. We are on the way to the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Now, true it is that this is a passage which is achieved only through the cross. That reality of the cross in Christ’s and our life can never diminish the hope we have due to Christ’s victory. We will shout out that joy at Easter. In the meantime, we are confident as we embrace the cross. It is not the dour St. Thomas who is our model, “Let us also go up to die with him” (John 11:16). Rather, the words at the end of our Responsorial Psalm today guide us, “I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly, I will praise you” (Psalm 22:23). That is why we hear these words from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10,11).
Our first reading at Mass today is the Third Suffering Servant Song from the Prophet Isaiah. The fidelity of Christ to his mission is founded upon the call of his Father: “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). We too are to respond to that call and walk with the Lord, confident that we shall not be put to shame.
Thus, we take our cue from the Prophet Zechariah, “Behold, your king is coming to you…humble, and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). And we cry out to our humble king, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118). Hosanna! Hosanna!”
Sisters and brothers, on this day let us not only hail our King and Savior from afar with our palm branches. Let us join him, process with him, follow him through this Holy Week, through his cross and resurrection right on up to and into the Heavenly Jerusalem.