Since July, the church has been presenting to you the changes that are coming in English translation of the Mass in the book now called the "Sacramentary" but in Advent 2011, to be called the "Roman Missal." Each week, "The Liturgical Minute" is presented at the beginning of all Masses and is printed in the bulletin. By doing this, we hope to make the transition from the old wording to the new a smooth and comfortable one.
The current Liturgical Minute will be located right here. All prior Liturgical Minutes can be found listed on the left hand column of this page.
The New Liturgy of the Revised Roman Missal
Liturgical Minute – Lent L-6
The Majestic Palm
According to tradition, the palm branches distributed on Palm Sunday are burned to obtain ashes for the next Ash Wednesday. There are other “traditions” surrounding Palm Sunday that may go back thousands of years.
In most cases, Jesus avoided crowds. We read in John 6:15 that after feeding the five thousand, to avoid the crowd, he withdrew to the mountains alone. Why would Jesus depart from this strategy and allow himself to be publicly honored with palm branches like a king? In the 12th Chapter of the Book of Exodus, the Lord instructed Moses to choose the lambs for the Passover sacrifice, which had to be young lambs free of blemish, four days before Passover. The day Jesus publicly entered Jerusalem was four days before Passover, the very day that tens of thousands of Jews were presenting their Passover lambs to the Jewish priests for inspection, to be sure they were good enough for sacrifice. Could it be that Jesus, the unblemished sinless Lamb of God, was presenting himself to the people for inspection, showing them that he was worthy of sacrifice for our sins?
And why were the palm branches placed at the feet of Jesus? The early books of the Bible also give us the answer. The palm tree was considered a majestic tree and its branches were used as a sign of stateliness, and the gift to welcome and celebrate the arrival of a king. If a conquering king entered a city carrying palm branches, it was a sign that he was coming in peace. Palm branches were symbols of joy and victory. All of these symbols were fulfilled by Jesus, the King of Kings who came in peace to conquer sin.