Palm Sunday- Gospel Matthew 21:1-11- At The Procession with Palms

Palm Sunday; Faithful or Fickle ?- Gospel Matthew 21:1-11- At The Procession with Palms

Imagine a grand wedding celebration on a Sunday, and a separation and divorce on the Friday of the same week. Insane you think? Pottypadre has flipped his wig finally! Well not entirely. Think about it; you welcome the Lord with shouts of ‘Hosannas’ on a Sunday and cry ‘crucify him’ on a Friday. How’s that for irony? Fickle humans, that’s what we are.

The first time this fickle drama took place was on the tenth day of the month of Nissan, in Jerusalem. Nissan is first month of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year, also called Aviv. On this day, Jewish families flocked to the temple of Jerusalem to select a lamb that would be sacrificed on the fourteenth day of Nissan (that would be a Thursday). But the gospel of John tells us that the Passover was celebrated on a Friday, Good Friday to be precise. How do we reconcile this?

Rabbi George Schlesinger explains this.
First of all, it’s helpful to know and understand that in ancient days there were two sacrifices i.e. two holidays that were conjoined into one in later days. There was the Pascal sacrifice/Pascal holiday which was known as the “Pesach” or “Passover”, which was an agricultural holiday celebrating springtime and the new lambs of the flock. This festival apparently preceded the Exodus from Egypt by many, many years. This was celebrated on the 14th day of Nissan.

This 14th day of Nissan, became the ‘term’ that in later days came to be a separate sacrifice/holiday celebrated a day later, namely, the 15th of Nisan and the start of a 7 day festival during which matza (an unleavened flatbread )was eaten. So while the lambs were being sacrificed at the Passover in the temple, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was being sacrificed on Mt Calvary.

But for now, this Lamb of God, Jesus, is entering into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. What a strange animal to ride on! Surely Jesus could have chosen a nice white stallion. Unlike us, Jews would have no problem with the symbolism; it would have spoken clearly to them. They were familiar with the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 who prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem, riding humbly on a donkey.

Besides, a donkey was the animal traditionally used in coronations of Israel’s kings. The donkey is also a humble beast of burden. Kings rode donkeys in time of peace as a sign of peace. In times of war they would ride a horse. Technically, if Jesus came toward the city of Jerusalem, riding a donkey it would mean that He, the king, in marching on victoriously to Jerusalem, had come to sue for peace. By virtue that they citizens came out rejoicing, waving branches and crying Hosanna (which means save us); they were effectively ‘surrendering’ to the king’s reign. But we know the tragedy of Good Friday.

It’s ironic that within five days, the cries of ‘Hosanna’ (save us) change to ‘Away with him’. But Good Friday is merely a great pause in salvation history. WE ARE NOT A GOOD FRIDAY PEOPLE, WE ARE AN EASTER PEOPLE AND ALLELUIA IS OUR SONG. Unfortunately for us, we know the end of this story and so there is no fascination, no desire, no longing, no yearning for how this all ends.

But for once, enter this Holy week, a week that changed the world, like as if it were your first. Live the sounds and sights of this week. Watch carefully the villains of the week, observe the supporting casts, hold your breath as Judas goes out into the night, groan in frustration when Peter denies Him, shed tears of sorrow with Mary; but don’t take your eyes of JESUS; He is our Saviour, He is the Hero, He is our God.

Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit

Fr Warner D’Souza may be contacted on whatsap on +91- 9820242151.
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4 thoughts on “Palm Sunday- Gospel Matthew 21:1-11- At The Procession with Palms”

  • Amazingly researched article! Thank you for guiding us to live this ‘holy’ week. Loved the first and last paragraph. God bless you!

  • Another lovely reflection well the last paragraph. Thank you Fr. Warner ..

  • Truly ….this must have taken a lot of research to make the reflection soo meaningful….thankyou for explaining the technicalities Fr. That makes us understand the concept of Palm Sunday and Jesus’s sacrifice soo much better! God bless!


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