So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”- John 12:13
Palm Sunday means, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Some 450 to 500 years prior to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah had prophesied the event we now call Palm Sunday.
The prophecy was fulfilled in every particular, and it was indeed a time of rejoicing, as Jerusalem welcomed their King. Unfortunately, the celebration was not to last. The crowds looked for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually, for mankind’s primary need is spiritual salvation not political, or national.
Palms were symbols of life among the nomadic tribes, who, when crossing the desert, rejoiced at seeing the palm tree as it indicated an oasis with life-giving water was near. Palms have long been a sign of victory, success and glory. Victorious armies or leaders returning from the battlefield or a long military campaign were welcomed by the populace jubilantly waving palm branches. Despite Jesus’ peaceful manner, when the Jews waved the palms at Him and spread their clothing over which He rode, they were affording Him the honors of a conquering hero and simultaneously defying the Roman occupiers.
In 1955, the Church standardized and simplified the different entrances used on Palm Sunday, with either an organized procession that begins outside the church, a solemn procession starting inside the church, or no procession at all. This is used only once during the weekend Masses. It is not repeated at every Mass. The Church calls this day Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.
Almighty God, we offer you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless. At the start of this holy week, in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death, we turn our eyes to focus on the Messiah, the One who comes in your name, who opens the gates of heavenly righteousness and answers when we call.
We bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon us and for sending your son to us, in human frailty, to walk the road we walk. Open our eyes that we may see him coming, and may praise him with a pure heart. Open our minds that we may choose to walk in the way of his suffering and share also in his death and resurrection.
On this day of great rejoicing, Lord Jesus Christ, when we welcome You as our King and Savior, we also walk in the shadow of Your cross. Hosanna! We cry! Blessed are You who come in God’s name to save us. Hosanna!
Strengthen our faith on this Palm Sunday so that when the time comes to carry our cross we might still call out to You with heartfelt praise. Give us the grace and the courage to follow You this Holy Week from death to resurrection, from darkness to the fullness of light. God, may we walk in your ways, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen