CTK Faith Formation Online
PRAYER AND PALM SUNDAY- HOLY WEEK
Sunday, April 5 begins the most solemn week of the entire Church year. WHAT is so special about it? This Sunday is known by two titles: Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.
At the beginning of Mass, the Gospel of Matthew is read (Matthew 21:1-11) while the priest, deacons and members of the Church with palms in their hands, process around the Church. (refer to the reference given above if you do not have a Bible at home)
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This reading recounts Jesus’ final journey. It talks about His entry into Jerusalem, as was foretold by the prophet Zechariah (9:9).
Why did Jesus go to Jerusalem? It was to celebrate Passover. Passover is the memorial celebration of the Jewish nation’s deliverance from their bondage by Egypt. It was through Moses, who was guided by God, and God’s direct intervention that the Israelites (Jewish Nation) was set free. This was no easy task. The book of Exodus (OLD TESTAMENT) in Chapters 6-14, describes the series of events.
Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem
During Jesus’ time, Jerusalem was THE place to go to celebrate Passover because of its deep spiritual significance for the Jewish People. The Jewish Temple was there- where lambs were sacrificed for the Passover meal. It was the center of Jewish life-the go-to place! Jerusalem was very crowded when Jesus got there. Jesus told his disciples in advance that he must go there; knowing full well that the Roman presence had been increased because of the possibility of violence by the crowds gathered there. He also knew that the Chief Priests, the Scribes, Pharisees, and other Jewish officials, knew about Jesus because they had witnessed Jesus’ preaching, miracles, and heard testimonies from others. Jesus also confronted the Jewish authorities concerning their hypocrisy on more than several occasions, which they did not like at all. So, the stage was set- Jesus was walking into a situation that would ultimately result Him being tortured and hung on the cross. By His death, Jesus’ mission would be completed and this barbaric punishment would be turned upside down into humankind's salvation. Good Friday- the crucifixion would lead to the Resurrection of Jesus.
So, What Happened?
Jesus could have snuck in, or at least just been apart of the crowds; instead He entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This signified His title as Messiah- the one who delivers God’s people and His authority. This was not lost on the people who witnessed this. The Jewish people knew about Zechariah’s prophecy, and were looking again for a deliverer, this time, from their Roman oppressors. Likewise, the Jewish people were also looking for a spiritual deliverer. The Jewish authorities, at that time, were not so much concerned about spiritual matters, but more concerned about power and status.
What a weird word, “HOSANNA”! What does it mean? HOSANNA is an exclamation of praise and recognition of authority- of the one who saves! This did not go unnoticed by the Jewish and Roman authorities in Jerusalem. Jesus entered the gate into Jerusalem (Jerusalem was and still is a walled city) and as He entered, people began throwing their cloaks, and palm branches on the ground. They exclaimed, “HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST”, and enthusiastically waved palm branches, welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. They celebrated Him. Jesus’ reputation for performing miracles- raising Lazarus from the dead, curing the sick, preaching forgiveness and love was well known………
BUT, SADLY…….. This enthusiasm in five short days would vanish! Instead of, “HOSANNA”, the crowds would shout, “Crucify HIM”!
In the first lesson we learned about a method of prayer called-MEDITATION- You can do this alone, or better yet, with your parents, calling to mind what happened to Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem.
Visualize it in your mind; hear the shouts, feel the crowd of people pushing against each other…..Read the Gospel of Matthew 21: 1-11.
Write down or talk about how the crowds reacted, and maybe what was going through Jesus’ mind as He made His way into Jerusalem. He knew very well that in He would be under the watchful eyes of the Jewish and Roman authorities- It would not end well…
Now, call to mind an occasion when someone you confided in, or thought was a friend- betrayed you in some way. How did that make you feel?
Now, call to mind when you may have betrayed the confidence of a friend, classmate, sibling, neighbor, or relative by disclosing information, spreading rumors, or even rejecting that person. We can do this in general conversation, deliberate effort of words and/or actions. Remember what happened to Jesus- from triumph to rejection-to denial – to crucifixion.