(Luke 19:28-40) Palm Sunday has always been one of my favourite celebrations. The fragrance of the palms, the sense of joyful expectation, and the feeling of excitement as the opening words of the antiphon are intoned have always filled me with exhilaration. “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed are you, who have come in your abundant mercy!”
There was so much joy on that day of celebration in Jerusalem, yet at the same time Jesus knew that His mission was coming to an end. His ‘Lenten days’ of preparation, prayer, teaching, and healing were drawing to a close; the time of Salvation was at hand. And so, as Jesus entered the gates of the city, the words of the prophet, Zechariah, were fulfilled: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey” (Zech 9:9).
While we may be tempted to regard Palm Sunday as an isolated historical event, the Church has never seen it as a thing of the past. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “Just as the Lord entered the Holy City that day on a donkey, so too the Church saw him coming again and again in the humble form of bread and wine. The Church greets the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as the one who is coming now, the one who has entered into her midst. At the same time, she greets him as the one who continues to come, the one who leads us toward his coming.”1
Jesus wants to come to us in a very personal way. He wants to be part of our everyday lives, to be witnesses of the Good News of His love and mercy to everyone we encounter. Fr. Francis Fernandez writes, “Jesus … wants to enter triumphantly into the lives of men today, riding upon a humble animal; he would like us to bear witness to him in the simplicity of our work done well, showing forth our cheerfulness, our serenity and our sincere concern for others. He wants to be close to us through the circumstances of normal human dealings.”2 Jesus Christ is indeed here with us today, just as He will be with us always and forever. Let us welcome Him, the King of glory, and carry Him into our lives, wherever we may go!
– Sharon van der Sloot
“I have become your donkey, and in just this way am I with you.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
1 Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, trans. Philip J. Whitmore (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 10-11.
2 Fr. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, vol. 2 (New York: Scepter Publishers Inc., 2005), 249.