Accompanying Jesus During Holy Week

User's Guide to Sunday, March 25

(photo: Benjamin Robert Haydon, Public domain/Wikipedia)

Sunday, March 25, is Palm Sunday, the Solemn Celebration of the Lord’s Entrance Into Jerusalem for His Passion and Death. Mass Readings: At the Procession of the Palms: Mark 11:1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47.

The Sacred Liturgy for Palm Sunday begins with a Gospel account of the Lord Jesus making his entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem, mounted on a donkey.

As he made his procession into the sacred city, the loud exclamations abounded — “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux makes an interesting comparison between the greetings that the Son of God received coming into Jerusalem and then on Good Friday: “How different the cries are that now are calling him ‘King of Israel’ and then in a few days’ time will be saying, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’ What a contrast between the green branches and the cross, between the flowers and the thorns! Before they were offering their own clothes for him to walk upon, and so soon afterward they are stripping him of his, and casting lots upon them” (“Sermon on Palm Sunday”).

Surely, some of the same people who shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” were among the same people who mocked him while he was on trial with Pontius Pilate.

How can someone possibly go from shouting that greeting of honor to shouting for his death (“Away with him; away with him — crucify him!”)?

It shows us the reality of how we can all turn our backs on the Lord Jesus.

If you don’t think this is possible in your life, think about how many times you have committed a grave sin (breaking one of the Ten Commandments or one of the Seven Capital Sins or not abiding by the precepts of the Church).

Remember the Gospel of the Rich Young Man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life: Jesus asked him if he kept the commandments, and he answered in the affirmative — but he was still lacking something.

He had not made a definitive commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And because of that, the young man went away sad.

He could have been a loyal disciple, if only he had not turned his back on Jesus.

Jesus came that we might have eternal life. His passion, death and resurrection open up the door for each of us to enter into a life-giving relationship with the Holy Trinity. That’s what this week reminds us.

Holy Week is the holiest week of the entire liturgical year in the Church. How have we prepared for this week? What has our Lenten preparation involved?

 If you have been away from the sacrament of penance (confession) for some time, please go and experience the liberating effect of the Lord’s mercy. Make a good examination of conscience, confess all of your mortal (grave) sins by name and around the number of times committed, if you know, and make an honest and sincere firm purpose of amendment to avoid the near occasion of sin in the future.

Do not be afraid of opening up those deep, dark places in your heart. The Lord died in order for that burden to be lifted from you. He is waiting in the sacrament of his mercy to wipe away your sins — if only we would give him a chance.

Father John Paul Mary Zeller is a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word and resides in Irondale, Alabama, the home of EWTN.