PALM SUNDAY: 24 March

Was it last year that attention was drawn to the importance of the

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON at our celebration of Eucharist? Too often this is brushed aside or even ignored. How often have you heard a reference to it in the sermon? Yet, so very often, it sets the tone of the particular celebration – giving a clear and sharp focus.

Today, Palm Sunday, is a wonderful example. The last part

[Psalm 24 or 23] of the antiphon proclaims:

 

O gates, lift high your heads, grow higher ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory! Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blest are you, who have come in your abundant mercy

Here is the purpose and challenge of Palm Sunday. Each one must step up to the plate, take the bat and face what is coming to us.

If we followed last week’s counsel to stock up we will be able to face the challenge and wholeheartedly let him enter, and celebrate the reality of this significant Sunday. The central reality focuses on Christ, Lord, Saviour and Messiah. This, is

WHO we have to let in – by lifting ourselves up, growing higher, and – as was said last week – speak for ourselves as responsible adults.

If you think this is an exaggeration take a look at what

ISAIAH tells us in THE OLD TESTAMENT READING[50: 4 -7].

“The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward … the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded …. I know I will not be put to shame.”

Then, go on to SAINT PAUL in the NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [PHILIPPIANS 2: 6 – 11] where we hear that “therefore God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

If we put the scriptures of Isaiah and Paul together, we are faced with what precisely Palm Sunday is all about. In addition, these scriptures provide real substance to the Entrance Antiphon. It is of little use to ‘wallow’ in guilt and regret with the Passion Reading which follows unless we recognise and accept that Jesus Christ is Lord. This fact is the only matter which provides the proclamation of the Passion with any sort of meaning and reason to CELEBRATE!

Today there are two Gospel proclamations. They need to be seen and reflected on together.

The first is heard during the blessing of the Palms, and comes from LUKE 19: 28 – 40. Here there are two points which should arrest our attention. Firstly, do not overlook the phrase which says that “the Lord has need of it.” Jesus Christ, the king of glory, has need of us in this Sunday’s celebration. A need of us, not only in terms of our physical presence but also in our willingness and eagerness to accompany him on this very special journey which must be celebrated. We must not turn back or be confounded. Today reminds us that we not only need him but that he has need of us. WE WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.

Secondly

, hear Jesus’ words to the Pharisees who advocate greater decorum. The Lord says: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Christ the Messiah wants (needs?) us to celebrate, be enthusiastic, and show our involvement and support. He needs it. Palm Sunday is not a time for decorum or silence.

The next Gospel extract is

LUKE’S VERSION OF THE PASSION [22: 14 – 23: 56]. The Passion Reading must speak to our HEARTS. Our minds know the details. We are not hearing facts of which we are ignorant. What do these actually tell us? How do they motivate us? Do they influence our hearts? If not, they are worthless.

In the Passion Reading we will also hear that Jesus prays for us “that your faith may not fail.” We all need to remember this fact. Faith is not always easy, and we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is on our side. If nothing else, the Passion Gospel tells us this simple, vital, fact. Finally, we hear of Simon of Cyrene on whom the cross was laid “to carry it behind Jesus.”

Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, needed Simon.

HE ALSO NEEDS US.