A liturgical catechesis on the beginning of Holy Week, which is PALM SUNDAY.
PALM SUNDAY begins the period of Holy Week. It commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, as narrated by the Four Evangelists and foretold by the Prophet Zechariah (Cf. Zechariah 9:9). It is called “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”, formerly called “Passion Sunday”, because Christ enters the holy city of Jerusalem to accomplish the will of God the Father through his Paschal Mystery, which is his Passion, Death, and Resurrection for the salvation of the human race from falling into sin. No wonder palms are used to wave at him because it has a deeper meaning. If there’s a picture of a Saint holding a palm, it symbolizes martyrdom because this holy person shed his/her blood for the sake of giving witness to the faith and the Gospel. Moreover, Jesus is the King of Martyrs because he has given witness not of his own accord, but in obedience of the divine will from the One who sent him, and that is God the Father. He freely submits himself into it, even through the merits of his Passion and Death, then he becomes glorious in his Resurrection, truly that the Father’s plan for our salvation has been fulfilled. Likewise we are also called to welcome our Lord into our everyday lives, meaning he should be at the center of our minds and hearts because we came from God, and that is where our destination should be attuned to.
At the first masses of Palm Sunday, the Outdoor Procession in a suitable place few distances from the church may occur, where the Priest, the Ministers and servers, and the faithful gather. In other Masses, the Solemn Entrance may also take place wherein they are gathered at either outside or at the back of the church. And the Simple Entrance may also occur as long as after the Entrance Procession, the Rite for the Blessing of the Palms takes place. The beginning of the Palm Sunday Mass starts with the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem, that means to say there is blessing of the palms and optionally the procession to the church, with the faithful holding their palm branches. The Priest and Ministers wear Red Vestments to symbolize Jesus as the King of Martyrs who shed his Blood on the Cross in submission to the divine will for our salvation. The Gospel of the Triumphal Entry is read either by the Deacon or the concelebrant or the Priest if he’s alone. After this is the Mass, wherein the Penitential Act w/Kyrie and the Gloria are omitted. At the Gospel of the Passion narrative, four speakers take part in the dramatization as follow: (1) the Priest taking the role of Jesus, (2) the Commentator narrating the passage, (3) the Deacon/concelebrant/Lector taking the role of one single speaker [Pontius Pilate etc.], and (4) the Choir or the whole Congregation taking the roles of groups of speakers [Crowds, Jewish leaders, and Soldiers]. Then the Mass continues in the usual way. In some cases, the Blessing of Palms may take place after the Mass, especially for those who have arrived late. But let us be reminded of our punctuality throughout the whole hour of this Eucharistic Celebration, for the traditional palm blessing will always take place at the start of the Mass on Palm Sunday.