On Palm Sunday the altar servers ushered me out to the plaza of St. Mary Magdalene chapel, where I was to begin the Procession. Three hundred eager souls followed, hoping to receive their very own palm for the year. We halted before the mahogany table set up for the occasion. “Christopher,” I whispered nervously, “where are the palms?” The table was bare. A stricken look came over the lead acolyte, but then, looking up, he brightened. “They are all around us, Father,” he smiled. It was true: we were surrounded by gracefully arching palms. I love living in California!
The Sacred liturgy of Palm Sunday begins in worldly acclaim and ends in human defeat. It is the only Mass with two proper gospels: the first describes a glory and triumph; the second describes abasement and ruin. Christ’s approval rating is 100% on Sunday; by Thursday almost everyone is calling for his bloody execution.
In his Passion, Christ paid no attention to judgment of this world. His eyes were fixed on His Father and the Divine Will. We who participate in this Palm Sunday Mass must follow him, both in triumph and in disgrace. We must follow him in life, and follow him in death. Nothing matters in this life beyond following Him. With Our Lady and St. John, we summon the courage and stamina to walk behind him, step by step through this Holy Week, armed with prayer and penance and charity.