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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

PALM SUNDAY 2016

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For the last five weeks of Lent we have journeyed along the path of reconciliation forgiveness and mercy with Jesus. As those who know his mercy we now begin Holy Week with our annual celebration of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, his own city on the day more commonly known as Palm Sunday. As we end the season of Lent it isn’t really the end as we all know that first Holy Week was the beginning and here we are in 2016 celebrating the life changing events that took place all those years ago. There was an American TV programme called That Was the Week that was which I’m told went out in the 1960’s and in many ways for us as Christians Holy Week was the week that was in the past, as it is for us now in our own time and will be the week that was in the future for other generations. So now in the context of faith we stop and ponder where our Lenten journey of mercy has brought us and what Holy Week is about. It is simply not just about the death of Jesus on Calvary it is about a great deal more and the cross is one of the central parts of this week.  We begin on Palm Sunday with a few days to go until Good Friday, days that are packed with symbolism and meaning. We hear in the Gospel the crowd goes from rejoicing and singing Hosanna to the Son of David to calling out crucify him, crucify him. The entrance into Jerusalem is one of the very few events in Jesus’ life which is mentioned in all four gospels.  It is the only time that Jesus accepts and encourages public acclaim as Messiah even at that it wasn’t really about him it was about doing his father’s will.  He even goes as far as organising his entrance by telling the disciples to go and fetch the donkey.  The key moment in God’s great plan of salvation is about to begin and Jesus knows exactly how it will unfold and where he will end up. As we reflect upon the story of Jesus going up to Jerusalem we recommit ourselves to Jesus and his message of mercy and salvation.The events of Palm Sunday were foretold thousands of years ago.

The first reading from Isaiah, was written at the time of the Babylonian captivity and it speaks of a courageous and obedient messiah-figure, who says, “I have set my face like flint” set my face against the beatings and scourging that lie ahead, “knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”  On Palm Sunday we feel an certain amount of embarrassment when we cry out “Crucify Him” with the palm branches still in our hands. It reminds us of our own fickle response and our lack of courage in responding to His Mercy, love and truth. Yet as we know it was the sins of us all which brought Jesus to Calvary. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are all about Jesus suffering for our inadequacies and our own very real sins. Holy Week is a time for us to realize what we are like, and to find that the only remedy for our fears is mercy and love. That is the Mercy and Love of God. Are we ready to join our own fears to the Master’s? Are we ready to add as much love and mercy as we can possibly muster to His boundless love and endless  mercy?

 

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