Why is Palm Sunday Important
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion comes at the end of the final week of Lent, marks the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified, where he was greeted by crowds of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna” (meaning “save us” or “deliver us”).
Palm Sunday is known as such because the faithful will often receive palm fronds which they use to participate in the reenactment of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem.
In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, and to the lavish praise of the townspeople who threw clothes, or possibly palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.
Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, which symbolized his humility and his role as a servant king. The people of Jerusalem recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the one who would deliver them from oppression and bring about a new era of peace and justice.
The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war.
The waving of palm branches was a common symbol of peace, victory, and triumph in ancient times, and the crowds used this gesture to welcome Jesus as a conquering hero.
However, their expectations of Jesus’ role were different from what he had in mind, and he would soon disappoint them by refusing to lead a rebellion against the Roman authorities.
Palm branches are widely recognized symbols of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday.
A week later, Christ would rise from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday sets the stage for the events that follow during Holy Week, including the Last Supper, Jesus’ arrest and trial, his crucifixion, and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
By commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday reminds Christians of the importance of humility, sacrifice, and service, as well as the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into the Church.
The palms are blessed and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be returned to the church, or kept at home for the year.
Because the palms are blessed, they may not be discarded as trash. Instead, they are appropriately gathered and kept safely at home or at the church.
At the beginning of lent the following year, they are produced in the Church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in that year’s Ash Wednesday observance.
The liturgical color of the Mass on Palm Sunday is red, symbolizing the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.
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