Palm Sunday: 'Welcome Jesus with open hearts' - Bishop.
"Let us welcome Jesus in our lives. Let us say 'Hosanna,' that is, to glorify God for sending Jesus."
A Catholic Church leader reminds the faithful "to welcome Jesus with open hearts and be thankful that Jesus comes.
To accept Jesus is to say 'Hosanna' in gratitude as we glorify God for sending our Savior Jesus Christ," said Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos as Christendom marks Palm Sunday, the first day of the Holy Week Sunday.
"God always makes the first move. He takes the initiative. He is not just contented to wait for us to come to Him. Palm Sunday is Jesus going to us. He searches us out and comes to us," the Church leader said.
"To accept Jesus is to say 'Hosanna,' that is to glorify God for sending Jesus. We are thankful that Jesus comes and we follow Him. To deny Jesus is to cry out 'crucify Him' which we do when we question His teachings, neglect His teachings, and go against His commandments," Santos said.
The prelate reminded the faithful "to choose Jesus and live out His teachings."
"Palm Sunday is an opportune time to reflect on what we say or shout to Jesus. Let us speak words of praise. Let us share His good news to others and tell how God heals and saves us. Whenever we joke about life, whenever we threaten a person, and when we resort to demeaning and abusive words, we are shouting and crying for their crucifixion. Likewise, when we remain silent against derogatory, disgraceful, and destructive words and deeds, we are also active participants to Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus comes. Let us choose Jesus and live out His teachings. Let us welcome Jesus in our lives," Santos, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said.
"This Holy Week, let us welcome Jesus with an open hand and heart as we say to one another, 'Come in the name of Jesus,' the bishop said.
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion is considered the world over as a Sunday of the highest rank. By tradition, church goers wave their palm fronds (palaspas) as the mass celebrant makes his way inside the church in a procession in reenactment of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem astride a donkey, where a huge jubilant crowd crying "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" welcomed the Son of God (Matthew 21:1-9).
Priests in red vestments -- the color of blood to symbolize the supreme redemptive sacrifice of Christ for mankind, will lead the principal religious ceremonies of the day that include the procession, the blessing of palms, followed by the Eucharistic celebration, and during the mass, the singing of the Passion of Christ, which recalls the final week of Jesus' earthly journey.
The complete narrative of the Lord's Passion is traditionally read "as a reminder of the complete obedience and submission of Christ to the will of the Father which, through His Holy Cross, brought salvation to the world."
On church altars, branches of "palaspas" will be placed between the candlesticks instead of flowers. The blessing of palms follows a ritual similar to that of the mass. Used as a sacramental by the faithful, the palm fronds are traditionally brought home and preserved in a prominent place such as in altars, near the door or on window sills in the belief that "the right hand of God will expel all adversities, bless, and protect those who dwell in them who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ." The palm fronds are brought back to the church a year later to be burned for the Ash Wednesday service.
Victory over death
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "The branches of palms signify victory over death and the advent of spiritual victory through Christ. The death and resurrection of Christ bring us closer to eternal life as man becomes one with God and God becomes one again with man."
In different parts of the Christian world, particularly where palms are hard to obtain, branches of other bushes and trees are used, including olive, box elder, spruce, and various willows. One Palm Sunday in Paris, France, this writer witnessed Catholic churchgoers being handed olive branches at the church entrance for free.
In Rome, Italy, a large crowd is expected to gather at the Saint Peter's Square, where Pope Francis is set to bless palm fronds as he leads the procession at 9:30 a.m., to be followed by a holy mass. The faithful usually bring home the blessed olive and palm sprigs, as symbols of peace. The Holy Father is also set to pray the Angelus and give the papal blessing at 12 noon.
Meanwhile, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead the Palm Sunday mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros at 7 a.m. Some parishes will bless palm fronds early in the day such as at the Quiapo Church in Manila where the faithful may bring their palm fronds as early as 4:30 a.m. at Plaza Miranda for the traditional blessing.
This will be followed by a procession to the church for the holy mass. Twelve men dressed as Christ's apostles traditionally join the procession.
Bishop Ruperto Santos (CBCP / MANILA BULLETIN)