(Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27, 66)

Palm Sunday signals the beginning of the Holy Week. On this day, we observe the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus today, amidst cheers from the crowds rode into the city on a donkey. People lined the streets as He came into the Holy city of Jerusalem; they spread leafy palm branches before Him and there were shouts of Hosanna. Though physically, we may not be able to gather for the joyful procession that characterizes the celebration of Palm Sunday, but the mystery celebrated this day remains unchanged.

The second part of today’s celebration presents the Passion of Jesus in Jerusalem with the crowd now jeering at him. It features the Passion narrative from one of the synoptic Gospels.

In the Passion narrative according to Matthew as read today, Matthew tells us that the band that came to arrest Jesus was led by Judas, who as a disciple knew where Jesus and His disciples were at that time. And when they arrived, he had to point out who Jesus was through the pre-arranged sign of a kiss.

Now, a kiss is a sign of intimacy, a sign of friendship and affection. And it is precisely this sign that Judas used to signify the exact opposite. The breach of friendship and its sign extends into our times. How often do we stab our friends in the back, using information we gained through and in our privileged position as friends? How many times have we used signs and symbols that naturally should signify intimacy and friendship with the opposite ends in view? We have time still to amend our ways, to be true with our friendship with Him and others.

To try to face each day as a true Christian, with courage, in a world which requires so many kinds of painkillers can be very hard. Struggle for true friendship, honesty, social justice and human freedom will involve some forms of death: death to one’s position, honour, and power; sometimes even physical death. But if our love for God and neighbour is deep and strong, we will be able to love sincerely, to reach out to others and diminish their sufferings. Jesus submitted humbly to death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-11) even though he was innocent.

At this time when the world is battling to combat the current problem, we are invited to renew our commitment to our vocation as Christians, disciples of Jesus and true friendship with God and one another. May we follow God with humility and obedience and never allow anything to distract us. The door of Holy Week has been opened to us, to follow the example of Jesus as we commemorate the Paschal Mysteries. I wish us all a blessed and fruitful Holy Week celebration.

Be still and know that I am your God!