Year of Youth 2018

9 Things You Need to Know About Palm (Passion) Sunday by Jimmy Akin

Last edited 3rd April 2017

9 Things You Need to Know About Palm (Passion) Sunday by Jimmy Akin

Palm Sunday--or is it Passion Sunday?--marks the beginning of Holy Week. This day commemorates not one but two very significant events in the life of Christ.

Here are 9 things you need to know.

1. What is this day called? The day is called both "Palm Sunday" and "Passion Sunday."

The first name comes from the fact that it commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd had palm branches (John 12:13).

The second name comes from the fact that the narrative of the Passion is read on this Sunday (it otherwise wouldn't be read on a Sunday, since the next Sunday is about the Resurrection). According to the main document on the celebration of the feasts connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis: Holy Week begins on "Passion (or Palm) Sunday" which joins the foretelling of Christ's regal triumph and the proclamation of the passion.

The connection between both aspects of the Paschal Mystery should be shown and explained in the celebration and catechesis of this day.

2. One of the notable features of this day is a procession before Mass. Why do we do this and how is it supposed to work? According to Paschales Solemnitatis: The commemoration of the entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem has, according to ancient custom, been celebrated with a solemn procession, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing "Hosanna." The procession may take place only once, before the Mass which has the largest attendance, even if this should be in the evening either of Saturday or Sunday. The congregation should assemble in a secondary church or chapel or in some other suitable place distinct from the church to which the procession will move. . . . The palms or branches are blessed so that they can be carried in the procession. The palms should be taken home where they will serve as a reminder of the victory of Christ be given which they celebrated in the procession.

3. Are we only supposed to use palms? What if you don't have palms where you live? It is not necessary that palm branches be used in the procession. Other forms of greenery can also be used. According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: The procession, commemorating Christ's messianic entry into Jerusalem, is joyous and popular in character. The faithful usually keep palm or olive branches, or other greenery which have been blessed on Palm Sunday in their homes or in their work places.

4. Should any instruction be given to the faithful? According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: The faithful, however, should be instructed as to the meaning of this celebration so that they might grasp its significance. They should be opportunely reminded that the important thing is participation at the procession and not only the obtaining of palm or olive branches. Palms or olive branches should not be kept as amulets, or for therapeutic or magical reasons to dispel evil spirits or to prevent the damage these cause in the fields or in the homes, all of which can assume a certain superstitious guise. Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory.

5. What was Jesus doing at the Triumphal Entry? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains: Jesus claims the right of kings, known throughout antiquity, to requisition modes of transport. The use of an animal on which no one had yet sat is a further pointer to the right of kings. Most striking, though, are the Old Testament allusions that give a deeper meaning to the whole episode. . . .

For now let us note this: Jesus is indeed making a royal claim. He wants his path and his action to be understood in terms of Old Testament promises that are fulfilled in his person. . . . At the same time, through this anchoring of the text in Zechariah 9:9, a “Zealot” exegesis of the kingdom is excluded: Jesus is not building on violence; he is not instigating a military revolt against Rome.

His power is of another kind: it is in God’s poverty, God’s peace, that he identifies the only power that can redeem [Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 2]. 6. What does the reaction of the crowd show? It shows that they recognized him as their messianic king.

Benedict XVI notes: The spreading out of garments likewise belongs to the tradition of Israelite kingship (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). What the disciples do is a gesture of enthronement in the tradition of the Davidic kingship, and it points to the Messianic hope that grew out of the Davidic tradition.

The pilgrims who came to Jerusalem with Jesus are caught up in the disciples’ enthusiasm. They now spread their garments on the street along which Jesus passes. They pluck branches from the trees and cry out verses from Psalm 118, words of blessing from Israel’s pilgrim liturgy, which on their lips become a Messianic proclamation:

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9–10; cf. Ps 118:26).

Read more from National Catholic Register by visiting the article below.


Visit this article


Viewed (1538)    Commented (0)