Our Entry into a Sacred Journey – Palm Sunday 2019

Source: commons.wikipedia.org

Repetition is rarely a bad idea, especially when it comes to major liturgical times such as Holy Week. I have offered Pope Benedict XVI’s image for this day before. He described Palm Sunday as “the great doorway leading into Holy Week,” the week when the Lord Jesus makes his way toward the culmination of his earthly existence and journeys through the great mysteries of human life.

A doorway leading to Holy Week is inviting us to mysteries that are both familiar and unknown. I know what to expect in Holy Week. It’s like coming home to mysteries that I have lived with all my life.

But the events of suffering, death, and resurrection are always experienced in new ways. The experience depends on what has happened to me and to the world around me since we last entered into these mysteries.

How am I more deeply aware of the suffering of the world and individuals this year? What experiences in my own life or the life of those around me do I hold onto as we look toward Good Friday and the Cross?

How do I need to experience the real effects of the rebirth of Resurrection at this point in my life? It’s good for us to ask what our true expectations are for this week. What are our deepest desires as we enter through this day’s doorway to Holy Week?

The Greeting at the start of the Palm Sunday liturgy invites to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. “Let us commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city of our salvation, following in his footsteps.” This doorway leads to a sacred journey.

I’ve always been struck by the processional nature of Palm Sunday. Depending upon the worshipping community, there may be a real procession with blessed palms. But, at the very least, there is the reminder of a procession.

Once, many years ago, I prepared a prayer service for Palm Sunday. I can no longer find a copy, but I remember that I prepared a kind of “way” for this day, much like the way, or stations, of the Cross on Good Friday.

The stations consisted of miracles, healing accounts, and significant encounters between Jesus and people dealt with in his three-year journey from his baptism to the Cross. I think I did that because I have a personal assumption that all of these experiences went through Jesus’ mind as he entered into Jerusalem.

The crowd was roaring. Jesus was no fool. He probably guessed that the hosannas wouldn’t last before the experiences of Jerusalem reached their endpoint.

Regardless of the way you actually do it, it’s helpful to immerse yourself in the mysteries of this week.

There is a timeless character to the Paschal Mystery, the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. As we pray with it, we can’t help but see parallels in our own life and in the life of the world.

There are plenty of moments and experiences of suffering, death and transformation in our lives. Allow yourself to bring all of this to prayer this week.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Joan Levy Earle
    Posted at 07:16h, 14 April Reply

    Another sensible reflection from Father Shano. Yes there can be a true reminder of struggles in our own lives as we begin Holy Week. Thank God that Jesus gave us all the gift of second chances and the example of selfless love. How blessed we are who know and love Him.

  • richard grover
    Posted at 08:08h, 14 April Reply

    Thanks Phil. You have given us a perspective that helps me feel that I am part of a much, much, much bigger group…..and with a hopeful/joyful new ending. Hallelujah !

  • Peter Monty, SJ
    Posted at 10:03h, 14 April Reply

    A really helpful and meditative reflection!

  • Donna Currie
    Posted at 11:02h, 14 April Reply

    VERY good questions with which to enter into this week “again for the first time”.
    Thank you Philip..

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 11:18h, 14 April Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Carol Krull
    Posted at 13:16h, 14 April Reply

    Very good – as always, Fr. Philip. This gives me much food for recollection, reflection, and meditative prayer as I enter this Holy Week. Everybody has his /her own “Way of the cross” during his/ her lifetime, We have Jesus’ example of how to live that – with His help.

    Thank you.

  • Gabrielle Feuvrier
    Posted at 03:35h, 15 April Reply

    thank you Philip…

  • Philip Shano
    Posted at 18:13h, 18 April Reply

    Thanks for reading. Joan, your comment about “sensible” brings great consolation. I think that sensible views are so key.

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