By Fr. Paul Lelen Haokip
This year, Palm Sunday falls on the 24th March few days prior to the celebration of Yaoshang. Every religion revolves around one single prominent value/truth. Christianity is revolved around the feast of Easter which is introduced immediately by the observance of Palm Sunday. This is the beginning to the HOLY WEEK for the Christendom, particularly for the 1.2 billion Catholics. Why do the Christians hold palm leaves and shout “Hosanna, Hosanna”?
What do they mean by HOSANNA and the PALM LEAVES ? Read on.
“And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9; cf. Matthew 21:15, Mark 11:9-10, John 12:13). According to some who are versed in Hebrew, hosanna is a word of supplication, used like the interjections in Latin, to express feeling and other than to signify a thing. In every Mass the word HOSANNA is said twice during the Sanctus at the end of the Preface. It is sung by the choir at high Mass. It is also repeatedly sung during the distribution of the palms, and the solemn procession on Palm Sunday. We gather from St. Jerome (Matthew 21:15) etc. that the faithful, in some places, were accustomed to salute Bishops and holy men with cries of hosanna. Modern Jews have a procession of palm-branches in the synagogue, every day during the Feast of Tabernacles, in September, while prayers called hosannas are recited. The joyous character of the festival receives its fullest expression on the seventh day, the popular name of which is the Great Hosanna (Hosha`na Rabba)
PALM SUNDAY/PASSION SUNDAY:
Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in his path, before his arrest on Holy Thursday and his crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus mark the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent. In ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. They were often depicted on coins and important buildings. Solomon had palm branches carved into the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29). Again at the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honor Jesus (Revelation 7:9).
In the Roman Catholic Church, as well as among many Anglican and Lutheran congregations, palm fronds (or in colder climates some kind of substitutes) are blessed with an aspergillum (a liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) outside the church building. A solemn procession also takes place. It may include the normal liturgical procession of clergy and acolytes, the parish choir, or the entire congregation.
Anglican and Roman Catholic churches give out small crosses made from palm leaves, as a reminder of Jesus` entrance into Jerusalem and his death on the cross. The Catholic Christians keep these in their homes (family altars) all year as a symbol of their faith.
This is the Thursday before Easter Day
On Maundy Thursday Christians remember when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, breaking bread and drinking wine, which is now known as the Last Supper. Many Christians remember this by sharing bread and wine together in a service called Holy Communion, Eucharist or Mass. It is a reminder that Jesus sacrificed his life for mankind. At this meal Jesus told his followers that they should love and serve one another. He demonstrated this by washing the feet of the disciples – something a servant would normally do. You can read this story in the Bible in John Ch.13v1-15
The word maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Jesus at the Last Supper, that we should love one another. Roman Catholic church services include a ceremony in which the priest washes the feet of 12 people to commemorate Jesus` washing the feet of his disciples.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates the execution of Jesus by crucifixion. Good Friday is a day of mourning and fasting. During special Good Friday services Christians remember Jesus` suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith. In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion. The main service on Good Friday takes place between midday and 3pm. In many churches it takes the form of a meditation based on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, with hymns, prayers, and short sermons. In the Catholic Church, this feast now coincides with that of Passion Sunday, which is the focus of the Mass which follows the service of the blessing of palms.
Till we celebrate the next Palm Sunday on April 13 2014, keep your sacred Palms to show to the world that you participated in the previous Palm Sunday with faith. Just like the Palm Leave is branched out in many directions – keep yourself adaptable to people of various faiths and nations. Just as the green palm leaves signify life and durability – keep your life active for good deeds to your neighbor. May this day be a blessing to you all.