PALM SUNDAY-Today, world-wide, Christians are celebrating Palm Sunday. It is the day which marks Jesus’ heroic and triumphant enter into Jerusalem. It is known as Palm Sunday because the citizens attending the event cut palm branches and spread them on the path before him. Have you ever wondered why they did that?–I have. Also I have wondered just who all those people were. In addition, I have chucklingly thought what today might have been called if Jesus had approached the temple in Paducah, Kentucky in July—Maple Sunday, Oak Sunday, Ash Sunday, Willow or Birch Sunday? I’m not wise-cracking—I’m serious.
The Catholic Christians do, in fact, make a big to-do about the palm. They march in a procession of sorts with palm branches over their shoulders. The palm is then taken home and the artistic ones among us weave all sorts of crosses and Christian emblems out of it before it dries, Other less fanciful may simply double it on itself and stick it behind a crucifix or holy picture hanging on the wall. The left over palm is saved and burned to ashes which are applied to penitents foreheads the following Ash Wednesday. The point is, the palm is revered as having some special significance.
I suppose the question remains why was the palm spread on the ground in the first place and secondly, why were there so many people in attendance. In the first instance, it is likely that the dirt road was muddy, and the palm provided a clean, dry pathway. Jesus, you will recall was riding an ass and would not been concerned with muddy roads. His apostles and close followers, however, were walking and most likely would have greatly appreciated the cover. Now to the second consideration—why so many cheering people? Jesus spent his entire teaching career in the shadows, out of the lime-light so as not to rattle the ire of the king, high priest and elders.
It seems likely to me that there two sets of people in attendance that day—one set were Jesus’ true followers—the others were those who sensed a ‘big showdown’ and didn’t want to miss the show. Jesus, himself, was steady as a rock—he was on a mission.
When time for the show arrived, the crowd was ready. Jesus had influenced many followers, but it seems obvious to me that most of them, including his apostles did not comprehend his message—they scattered like sheep running in terror from a wolf—seems to me like they still are. The bulk of the Jews present knew Jesus was teaching heresy and were quite willing to sentence him to crucifixion—the death mode reserved for treason. His friends were terrified—only one of them attended.
I spoke of Jesus’ heroic and triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It was certainly heroic because Jesus, undoubtedly, had witnessed many crucifixions—he understood what a horrific death it was, but he also knew why his mission was so important and necessary—-the salvation of the entire universe(s) lay before him. It was indeed triumphant, because he had overcome his fear—he was now steadfast and ready for what lay ahead. His apostles seemed not to have a clue—to them it was just another stroll in the park up until the last minute.
So now that Covid-19 has put a damper on most of the ecclesiastical blame-game, penitents can be a little more detached from the distraction of all the ritual, and be a little more attached to the real meaning of Palm Sunday.
Yes, we all are selfish sinners—yes, so is every existence. Yes, genius Jesus saw that. He knew that our God and mirror image had allowed us and all creation to be that way for one very specific reason—so he could be and show his perfect love—-Jesus was his agent. Every other consideration in my estimation is not only superfluous but, rather, distracting from the real truth and understanding.
Thank you Lord God, Jesus and Holy Ghost (will of God). Amen.