Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

Holy Days

Palm Sunday ~ Between March 15 and April 19

Palm Sunday observes Jesusí entrance into Jerusalem. The crowds who were in Jerusalem for the Passover were waving palm branches and proclaiming him as the messianic king.

In addition to palm trees being common in the Mediterranean world and its leaves a logical material to cover a dusty road, palm leaves were also a symbol of victory and triumph in the ancient world.

The cheering, palm waving crowds that lined the road gave evidence to the effectiveness of Jesus' message and the large following he had attracted. Given this, it is no wonder that the religious and political establishment were concerned about his popularity and the potential threat to their earthly power that it represented.

However, Jesus' kingdom was not of this earth and he was not seeking earthly power. While his followers hailed his entry into Jerusalem with palm leaves which symbolized triumph and victory, Jesus himself elected to be on the back of a humble donkey rather than a horse.  Throughout history horses were the preferred means of travel for the rich and powerful. The horse was used in war and represented conquest and power. The donkey, however, is puny compared to the horse and is a simple beast of burden used by the common masses.

As Christ repeatedly stated, his kingdom was not of this world but rather that of heaven. He urged his followers to focus on and prepare for eternal life in heaven, not political change on earth. The Gospels tell us that Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, enacting the prophecy of Zechariah. Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week and Jesusí final agonizing journey to the cross.

Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week and Jesusí final agonizing journey to the cross. The English word passion comes from a Latin word that means "to suffer," the same word from which we derive the English word patient.

As we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, we celebrate the first joy of the season, but it is also the beginning of Holy Week, the greatest tragedy and sorrow of the year. Jesus' triumphal return to Jerusalem is only one side of the story.

By now many of the Jews are filled with hate for Our Lord. They wanted to see him stoned, and were calling Him a blasphemer. Jesus had been called to Bethany where he raised Lazarus from the dead. This was a miracle that won Him such attention among certain Pharisees that they have decided finally to end His life.

Jesus took refuge at Ephrem and returned to Bethany six days before Passover, which was Palm Sunday. He entered Jerusalem triumphantly. That evening He left Jerusalem and then returned on Monday. He spent time with the Gentiles in the Temple, and on Wednesday he left for the Mount of Olives. There he foretold the events of the next several days, and of His impending death to the apostles.

He returned to Jerusalem on Thursday, to share the Last Supper with His apostles. He was subsequently arrested, tried, and crucified on Friday on Calvary, at the gates of Jerusalem.  He was buried the same day.

All of this was done by Our Lord for the forgiveness of our sins, and for life everlasting with Him. God so loved us, that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us, so that our sins may be forgiven.

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