April 14, 2019
by Cindy Murphy McMahon
Creighton University's Communications and Marketing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 37/38

Luke 19:28-40
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Phillipians 2:6-11
Luke 22:14-23:56 OR
Luke 23:1-49

Praying Lent


The 1st Four Days of Holy Week
- 14 min.
- Text Transcript

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Palm Sunday, with its palms, processions and readings, is one of the special days that can evoke strong emotional connections in our spiritual history, for those who have been in the church most of their lives. For those who are newer to Catholicism and Christianity, I suspect it still makes an impact because of its uniqueness.

I remember how unusual the palms seemed when I was a youngster. They were like nothing else I experienced in church or anywhere in my life—long strips of greenery, kind of chartreuse in color, that we willingly accepted and then carefully protected on the way home, where they would be tacked behind a crucifix or religious picture in a prominent place in our home for the next 12 months.

The Gospel recounting of Jesus’ triumphant entry into the village, amid hosannas and palm-waving, doesn’t allow us to reflect long on the admiration and approval the people had for him. In sync with Jesus’ retort that “even the stones will cry out,” it would be nice to bask in the moment for a bit; it would be pleasant to dare to think about how satisfying and rewarding that afternoon must have been—and how well-deserved.

But, almost immediately, we are taken beyond that scene into the rest of what Holy Week is about—the seriousness of the Last Supper, the trials, betrayals, torture and death.

Granted, while some of the palm-wavers were probably not true disciples, at least some of those who were so excited must have legitimately been moved by Jesus and his power and his love.

Tradition has it that some of the same people were likely in the crowd a few days later yelling “Crucify him!” to Pontius Pilate. We often feel holier than thou and wonder how they could have possibly been so fickle, so easily swayed, so rootless in their spiritual depth. But we also know how we turn our backs to the good and the righteous when we don’t have all the facts, and even sometimes when we do.

The lesson for me in the days leading up to and including Palm Sunday will be to linger a little longer amid the palm-wavers. To feel their excitement, their enthusiasm for Jesus and his message. To reflect on his miraculous works and his soul-deep love. And to pray that the reality of the joy that comes from worshipping him will sustain me through the dark times until Easter’s rising, and each time I see the palms tucked beneath the cross in my living room.

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