Reflection for Palm Sunday 2020

Palm Sunday

My dear Friends:

Rumi, one of the great Sufi mystics, once said: What God said to the Rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, he said to my heart, and made it a hundred times more beautiful. The gripping stories within Palm Sunday’s liturgy, unfold Jesus’ triumphant welcome into Jerusalem; his acceptance and adulation by the people; his personal betrayalby a disciple; the Passover meal/Eucharist; his arrest, suffering and death. These poignant events are the swinging open of the ‘Triduum’ Gate into Holy Week.

Holy Weekcan lead us into the Heart of God and, like the rose, make our hearts and lives ‘a hundred times more beautiful’:

Holy Thursday, when Jesus fuses our hearts and souls with His, in the Eucharist. At this moment in time, we can receive a Spiritual Communion. I shall elaborate on this later in the week.

Good Friday, when his Passion(ate) love for us is demonstrated in his scourging, crucifixion and death; and,

Easter Sunday, when Jesus conquered death by his resurrection!

And this amazing, sacrificial act of love was done for you and me!

The palms we receive on Palm Sunday are, indeed, both beautiful and symbolic. However, it is only recently that a sentence in the gospel, Passion reading impacted on me! I remember in my early childhood, listening with foreboding and fear to the ominous happenings when Jesus breathed his last. The shocking scene reached its crescendo when the sanctuary curtain, which separated the people from the inner sanctum, was ripped in two! As a child, I used to think this was final demonstration of God’s disapproval at horrible and unjust deeds which had been committed. It was actually symbolic of the new covenant of love.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser looks at this through another insightful lens, and reveals something very beautiful! That veil, or curtain, used to separate the ordinary person from the holy of holies. It obscured and blocked their vision. Rolheiser state that, ‘what the gospel-writers are saying is that, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil that sits between us and the inner life of God was ripped open so that we can now see what God looks like inside…the cross, then is the ultimate icon, the real depiction of the Holy. It shows us God’s heart’. This is, indeed, the New Covenant of his love for us.

The challenges, pain, suffering, death, and bereavement being experienced by so many around the world, are indeed a Via Crucis, Way of the Cross. The experiences can sometimes feel as if the bottom has fallen out of our worlds! A bit like the Passion gospel, these experiences can perhaps fill us with fear and insecurity.

However! the symbolism of the tearing of that sanctuary veil, the liturgies of Holy Week invite us into the very ‘heart of God’. They proclaim his unfathomable love for each and every one of us. Whatever we are experiencing, be it coping with our own sickness, or caring for others; be it the challenge of feeling shut-in with ‘loved ones’, or stressed by being isolated; be it worries about job security, family support; or the gnawing worries about COVID 19…the Lord’s arms are around us to calm, strengthen and support us. One of the great mystics once wrote that the wound is the place where light enters you. That Light will enter us and will enable us to see through God’s eyes; our own hearts to beat with his love; our words to echo with his healing; and, our actions to respond with his compassion.

                     Do you know what you are?

                    You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
                   You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
                   This universe is not outside of you.
                   Look inside yourself;
                   Everything that you want,
                   you are already that.

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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