The meaning of the Palm Sunday lies in the welcome. Given to Christ who comes to us. Then we must receive the Lord, beginning the 1st day of Holy Week, we must accept his will as sovereign over us.
We teach that Great Lent is completed and comes to an end with two bright, festal days, two days Feast. This is Lazarus Saturday, recalling Christ’s raising of his dead friend Lazarus, and Palm Sunday, when celebrate Christ’s Triumphal Entrance into Jerusalem six days before He was betrayed to suffer and die on the cross.
In these two bright days, the Church reveals to us the real meaning of Christ’s voluntary sacrifice and saving death before we enter the sadness and darkness of the passion, before once again become witnesses of Christ’s suffering.
When Lazarus died, Jesus was far from Jerusalem, and it was not until four days later that He arrived in Bethany and met Lazarus two sisters, Martha and Mary. The Gospel of St.John recounts his meeting in detail, beginning with his conversation with the two sisters. Both tell Christ:” Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died…” (11:21, 32). And Christ answers:” your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). But regardless of this answer, when He saw the weeping of the sisters and their friends, He Himself,” was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33).
When He got close to the tomb, He weeped…” the people said:” see how He loved him’ (John 11:36).
Christ ordered that the stone on the grave be removed. Then He ordered with a loud voice:” Lazarus, come forth”. The dead man came out, his hands and feet boned… (John 11:42-44) what is the meaning of this event which the Lord performed rightly, joyfully and victoriously on Lazarus Saturday? How can we reconcile Christ’s sadness and tears with his power to raise the dead?
The Church teaches that Christ weeps because, in seeing the death of his friend, He sees also the death’s victory over the whole world…; He sees the death, which God did not create, has usurped the throne and now rules over the world, poisoning life, turning everything into a meaningless stream of days flowing mercilessly towards the abyss. Then comes the other command,” Lazarus come forth”. Here we see the miracle of love triumphant over death, a summon announcing Christ’s declaration of war on death a voice that death itself will be destroyed and put to death. And in order to destroy death and its darkness, Christ Himself, and this means God himself, love itself, life itself, descends into the grave to encounter death face to face in order to annihilate it and to give us the eternal life God created us to have.
Next, we will see Christ entering Jerusalem. This time, He is entering the Glory and Power He is preparing for His Triumph. The crowd were gathering with palm branches in their hands. They were welcoming Him with old greeting reserved only for the king:” Hosanna…! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”. This crowd, these palm branches, that thunderous royal welcome, that triumphal joy, what do they mean? And why do commemorate this event every year with same joy as if we ourselves were standing on the street of that holy city waiting , welcoming, eluting, and repeating the same words, very same Hosanna?
These meanings that Christ was a king, if only of a single city. It means that He signed, that the people recognized Him as a king. He already taught that the kingdom of God and of His future reign. But today He is revealing his kingdom on earth, He opens it, inviting people, and all of us as well, to become Citizens of this kingdom, subjects of this humble king ;a king with no earthly power and authority or might, but with all-powerful love.
We live in a world, that God is not a part of its life, a world busy with itself… there is almost no place in it for God’s love, God’s light, God’s joy. But on this day, when we are standing in our Churches, raising up our palm branches and hearing once again the royal “hosanna”, we say to ourselves and to the world:”Christ kingdom lives. The kingdom that shone so brightly on that day in Jerusalem has not died, it has not parished, has not disappeared…. We say to God” you are the one Lord, you are our only king: we know and believe and affirm that this kingdom of your love will victorious over evil and death. And in time, you will wipe every tear from our eyes, dissolve every sorrow in your joy, and fill the world you created with the light of immortality.
On Monday, Christ will begins His journey towards suffering and death. But we know that beyond the cross and death there will be resurrection. This is the meaning and power of those remarkable two days, when after completing Lent, we prepare to follow Christ to his voluntary passion, to His death and to his glorious resurrection.
Metropolitan Archbishop Paul
Primate of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines