14 Procession of Palms - Leon Bent

posted Apr 10, 2019, 9:02 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 10, 2019, 9:02 AM ]

The Procession on Palm Sunday symbolically spans the sacred eternity of time.

Holy Week opens on Palm Sunday morning with a ceremony that can be most impressive and dramatic, if conditions are such that it can be carried out realistically. It all began in Jerusalem; very long ago, there was a custom of acting out the triumphant entry of our Lord into the city. The congregation assembled in a chapel near Bethany, the place from which our Lord started. They accompanied the Bishop (who represented Christ), singing Psalms of praise, shouting Hosannas and waving branches of palms and olives. This practice spread throughout the Christian world, and was formalised after many years.

It is sad to say that since the Middle Ages, the Palm Sunday Service left out its main point – the procession. The emphasis was more on the blessings of palms, and a very elaborate rite took prominence. By contrast, the procession became a mere token affair. Palm Sunday is an opportunity to publicly manifest our loyalty to Christ our triumphant King, as he goes through Agony, the Way of the Cross and the Cross itself, for our redemption. On this auspicious day, the Procession should be as long as possible.

This procession takes us, in spirit, right back into the past. Yet, it is more than a mere memory; for, in our procession, we are actually accompanying Christ in the present moment. How is this possible? Christ is present in three ways: First, symbolically, in the Cross which heads the procession; second, through His representative - the priest; third, through the community gathered in His name.

This procession also looks to the future. Christ, in His redemptive work, passed from earth to heaven, which is the New Jerusalem. The Church stands for both, the earthly Jerusalem, as well as for the New Jerusalem of heaven. When Christ comes again, He will lead our risen bodies into everlasting bliss. This is a time to relish this extraordinary feature at the Parousia. Our procession on Palm Sunday is a prelude, a rehearsal, of our final Passover on the Last Day.