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Thoughts for the Week


Palm Sunday

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
9th April 2017

The Procession with Palms and Christ's Triumph

by Cardinal Angel Herrera Oria


The first Palm Sunday procession:  Described in the Gospel; it is a procession of triumph and a manifestation of the royal majesty of the Messias; a royalty which is humble and meek, but still a royal dignity. The acclamations were sincere but without depth. The people would abandon Him a few days later and would cry: Crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar (John 19). It would be a worthy and fruitful meditation, this one, concerning the fickle nature of human praise. It is repeated many times in history. Those who are today in power may easily find themselves exiled tomorrow. It is a dreadful error to seek everything in the praises and acclamation of men. Christ, in accepting this praise, does no more than fulfil the Will of His Father. We would do well to keep this in mind and seek God's Will in all things; sometimes we shall succeed, at others we shall be failures from the world's point of view. Before God we shall have succeeded always because there is no more sure and safe victory than this, of those who do the Will of God.


Processions in the history of the Liturgy:  On the Sunday before Easter there were Morning Offices in the Church of the Crucifixion which was then called "Martyrium". At the 7th hour of the day, that is about 1pm, the faithful came together at the Garden of Gethsemane for practices of devotion which lasted two hours and consisted of hymns, psalms and antiphons. At the 9th hour they went up the slopes of the Mount of Olives for more prayers and readings from the Scriptures. At the 11th hour the Gospel of The Entry into Jerusalem by Jesus was sung and the people went in solemn procession, carrying palms and olive branches, singing the Benedictus qui venit ... from Olivet to the Church of the Resurrection, where Vespers were sung and a prayer to the Cross. This custom was followed everywhere in the Middle Ages, but without the Blessing of the Palms. It is a symbol of the triumph of Christ.


The symbolism of the palms:  If Christians are content merely to be present at this ceremony singing and carrying palms, we cannot say that they really accompany Christ. Of many we may complain today, as we do of the Jews, that they were ready to assist at the glorious ceremonial but were not prepared to follow Christ in their lives. Religion is not a mere spectacle, even though, to honour Christ and God, the Liturgy is adorned with spectacular ceremonial, such as no other religion on Earth has ever known. Religion must show itself in the daily life of each one - that is what this procession with the palms should mean to us.  The symbol of victory after the fight: We may say that this is our yearly promotion to knighthood and martyrdom. Carrying these palms, we profess ourselves ready to manifest Christ to the world and ready to lay down our lives as did the martyrs, at least by means of our good works and our daily struggle against His enemies. This will be our real homage to Christ and thus we shall complete our joyous cries today - see to it, O Lord, that Thy people realise spiritually that which today they have celebrated exteriorly.