On this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion the gospel reminds us that Jesus entered Jerusalem with crowds preceding him. He is the focal point of a great procession in which the crowds go ahead with shouts of praise to the one who comes in the name of the Lord, Jesus, the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee. “Hosanna,” they say, “hosanna to the Son of David, hosanna in the highest!”
We also began our liturgy with a procession. In one way it’s a procession that began for us at the beginning of Lent, which we have followed during these weeks that have led up to today, our liturgical celebration of Passion Sunday, just as Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem also led him to his actual passion, which we will relive again in word on Good Friday. Today we begin with the entry, with the praise, bearing in mind what lies ahead.
It is important, I believe, to see ourselves situated in a greater procession. It is one we live each day, but even more one that began long before the time of Jesus; one that began at the dawn of humanity. If we reflect back to our readings on the first Sunday of Lent, we see our first parents initiating their search to recover what they had lost in the fall from grace and innocence. They went forth from the garden and began a long journey.
The procession also takes us back even further to another Lent in the history of salvation, to the time of the Exodus from Egypt and the wandering of the Hebrew people as refugees in the desert for 40 years. However, the procession is one that is always moving forward. It never rests for long in one place. It moves us ahead to the time of Jesus; to an event that we recall each each day we gather for Mass. Our procession takes us along all the stations of the way of salvation. It is for us and all, both past and future, a liberation story.
Each Sunday we process in a line with one another to the altar, and each time we gather we come to this place, this altar, that re-presents the sacrifice that we know as the Passion of the Lord. Still this is not yet the place we stop. We also go forth as we are sent out into the world beyond this moment along the way. Our procession looks ahead and beyond, just as Jesus entry in Jerusalem looked beyond the passion to Easter.
In our going forth we find ourselves in the company of others. We experience the journey as a migration story with the human family, and in our migration we find solidarity with our fellow migrants. In our journey we look to one another and take note of our needs and what we have that we may share along the way. We prepare our hearts to give freely and abundantly of what we possess. We look at our relationships, and not only our relationships with those who are closest to us, but also those who are farthest away because they too journey with us. They share in our wandering.
We arrive at Easter next weekend. It serves to remind us that the passion is not an end but something lies beyond it. The journey to Easter asks us to be a people of faith. True believers always look forward, always look beyond, but also always look to see who accompanies them, and they ask, “How might I better stand with you and take your hand? How might I better take your part and walk this path, this journey of liberation, with you my fellow migrants, my brothers and my sisters?”