Palm Sunday marks the culmination of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. We are about to celebrate what is at the heart of our faith, the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The palms are ancient symbols of victory which signal the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus is warmly welcomed by the crowd who waved their palms at him but only days later the same crowd mock and reject him, protesting for his crucifixion.
Jesus is the human face of God and knew what it was like to be rejected, despised and suffer physical pain and torture. When we think of his death on the Cross we are deeply moved. The cross is a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity and of all that we believe as Christians. Jesus through his death and resurrection has brought us hope for eternal life where we will share in his glory in the heavenly kingdom. Life is given ultimate meaning by the resurrection, it is only in him, who suffered, died and rose from the dead that salvation and redemption are to be found.
But how are we going to make sense of the Passion in our own lives and continue with hope on the journey towards resurrection? Jesus takes up his cross and invites us to do the same. In the world today we encounter Jesus in those who suffer and are in pain. Can we respond to the suffering face of Christ in the people who are in most need of our care? Can we extend to others the gift of forgiveness so generously shared with us?
During Holy Week perhaps we can take time to reflect on the fact that Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary for us. Through his self giving sacrifice our sins are forgiven. We can experience the gracious mercy of God in a special way in these days by availing of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where God frees us from all our anxieties, fears, and burdens and renews us with his unconditional love and forgiveness.
“The problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. God’s face is the face of a merciful .father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart…He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone.” (Pope Francis 17 March 2013)