Today is the Sunday before Easter and the first day of Holy Week.
On this day, we celebrate Palm Sunday – – – The day on which Jesus made his public entrance into Jerusalem, on a donkey.
The Entrance into Jerusalem
Jesus had long tried by direct teaching to impress upon his apostles and his disciples that his kingdom was not of this world, that it was a purely spiritual matter; but he had not succeeded in this effort. Now, what he had failed to do by plain and personal teaching, he would attempt to accomplish by a symbolic appeal.
Accordingly, right after the noon lunch, Jesus called Peter and John, and after directing them to go over to Bethphage, a neighboring village a little off the main road and a short distance northwest of Bethany, he further said: “Go to Bethphage, and when you come to the junction of the roads, you will find the colt of an ass tied there. Loose the colt and bring it back with you. If any one asks you why you do this, merely say, `The Master has need of him.'”
And when the two apostles had gone into Bethphage as the Master had directed, they found the colt tied near his mother in the open street and close to a house on the corner. As Peter began to untie the colt, the owner came over and asked why they did this, and when Peter answered him as Jesus had directed, the man said: “If your Master is Jesus from Galilee, let him have the colt.” And so they returned bringing the colt with them.
By this time several hundred pilgrims had gathered around Jesus and his apostles. Since mid forenoon the visitors passing by on their way to the Passover had tarried. Meanwhile, David Zebedee and some of his former messenger associates took it upon themselves to hasten on down to Jerusalem, where they effectively spread the report among the throngs of visiting pilgrims about the temple that Jesus of Nazareth was making a triumphal entry into the city. Accordingly, several thousand of these visitors flocked forth to greet this much-talked-of prophet and wonder-worker, whom some believed to be the Messiah. This multitude, coming out from Jerusalem, met Jesus and the crowd going into the city just after they had passed over the brow of Olivet and had begun the descent into the city.
Before they started, the Alpheus twins put their cloaks on the donkey and held him while the Master got on. As the procession moved toward the summit of Olivet, the festive crowd threw their garments on the ground and brought branches from the near-by trees in order to make a carpet of honor for the donkey bearing the royal Son, the promised Messiah. As the merry crowd moved on toward Jerusalem, they began to sing, or rather to shout in unison, the Psalm, “Hosanna to the son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed be the kingdom that comes down from heaven.”
Ceremonies of the day
In the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches, ceremonies of the day are the blessing and distribution of crosses made from palm leaves and the recitation of one of the three synoptic accounts of the Passion. Many wear crosses made of the palm.
Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your Son to be born of woman and to die on a cross, so that through the obedience of one man, estrangement might be dissolved for all men. Guide our minds by his truth, and strengthen our lives by the example of his death, that we may live in union with you in the kingdom of your promise. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.