Is 50: 4-7; Ph 2: 6-11; Mk 14: 1-15:47
A bishop from Latin America by the name of Dom Helder Camara said: “When I gave food to the poor, they call me saint; but when I asked why the people are poor, they call me communist.”
I’m sure this also happened to Jesus Christ before. When he cured the sick, fed the hungry, drank the thirsty and when he performed miracles for them, the people shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David.” But when these things were not received by them and was told that Jesus is a threat to the national security, the people shouted: “Crucify Him”.
We have a Latin saying: “Vox populi, vox Dei, (The voice of the people is the voice of God).” But I think at this very moment in the life of Jesus by which the people shouted that He should be crucified, this saying could not be applied. It is because the people were manipulated by only few so that what they wanted would be fulfilled.
Today is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. This officially marks the beginning of Holy Week. On Good Friday, we will celebrate the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I was reading a newspaper before (PDI, March 27, 1994 p. 21) and I came to read where a reporter had said that now our Palm Sunday is becoming commercialized and many people gain profits out of it. Like for example in Manila alone, a frond beautifully crafted into various designs and sometimes adorned by flowers costs P2.50-P10.00. I don’t know if there will also be an increase if the price of gasoline will increase. I’m sure yes there is.
The palms that we blessed and the Passion (according to St. Mark) that we read draw us into a drama of holy week not merely as spectators but as participants. The palms that we hold and take home with us are signs that we are willing to march with Jesus not only in moments of triumph and glory as when He entered Jerusalem crying “Hosanna to the Son of David,” but also in moments of suffering and agony as when he was condemned to death with the crowd saying, “ crucify Him.”
For us, it is easy to praise God when we are enjoying success or feeling healthy and are surrounded by a loving family and a circle of friends. On the other hand, it is difficult to believe in God when we are discouraged by repeated failure, suffer from sickness and pain, or feel abandon by everyone. But it is precisely in such moments that we really participate in the passion of Christ.
As far as I can remember about this so called blessed palm. When I was still in my innocent stage, it was associated with magic, anting-anting (amulet) and with pagan practices. I can still remember that my mother brought a blessed palm at home after we attended the mass. Some of these were even posted at our front doors in the belief that it can drive evil spirits.
When the storm was so strong, the weather was wild and furious with lightning and thunderbolts that our house was nearly hit; my aunt burned a blessed palm. She mixed it with coconut oil and put it in our forehead in order that we will not be hit and to appease nature’s fury. During Salubong (the meeting of Jesus and Mary after resurrection) on Easter Sunday, I witnessed that people built an elevated plot form called Hosanahan for little children act as angels who sing hosannas in unison while gracefully throwing flowers down the ground. Beneath them are the crowds who are competing in picking up and collecting these pieces of flowers. Even the wings of these little angels were also picked up. That important moment of the meeting between Jesus and Mary were given less importance. Farmers who used them were saying that these flowers could bring good harvest.
I don’t know if this practice is wrong or not but for me the most important is that Christ died for you and me so that we might be saved from eternal damnation. He loves us so much that He became man by being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary and died on the cross for us. What have we done to deserve His sacrifice? Christ died for us, but what have we done to be worthy of His passion and death on the cross? How many times that we nailed Jesus on the cross by destroying the dignity of others? How much does Jesus love you?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B