Why does Holy Week start on Palm Sunday when Jesus wasn't arrested until Thursday?
What does Hosanna mean? And why was Jesus riding the colt of a donkey?
Beginning on Palm Sunday we recall the pious crowds that so quickly turned to loud calls for violence. The people of Jerusalem sing "Hosanna!" to what they thought was their mighty rescuer, but soon reject the humble king promised to arrive riding a donkey. So doing, Palm Sunday offers a meditation, at the very least a provocative preview, of the mysteries that we will encounter during the Triduum:
- The last meal of Jesus with his friends
- Peter’s denial and the failure of Jesus’ friends to stay awake with him
- The betrayal of Judas
- Jesus’ human struggle with loneliness and fear
- His prayerful sense of peace and acceptance
- The self-interested leaders who choose to slay the innocent
- The humiliation and gruesome torture of Jesus
- His last words of forgiveness and total surrender of his spirit
The drama, like the Crucifix itself, is overwhelming taken all at once, so we often engage the story at a surface level. However, Holy Week requires reflection one event at a time, for the rest of our lives. The story of Holy Week, though known, should leave us in suspense: What is going to happen now?
As we wait in suspense for the Easter Vigil, it is worth reflecting on just a few of these scenes. In which can you see yourself and your shortcomings? Which of these situations and experiences stir an emotional response? Which characters in the drama can you identify with? But for what purpose?
As we progress through Holy Week, we watch and listen to Jesus so that we, in the circumstances of our own lives, may grow in the spiritual maturity Paul imagines: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus.”
MISSIO offers themed-quizzes in MissioBot to examine your religious knowledge - and this blog by James Nagle, PhD to reflect on questions of faith.