Monday, March 29, 2010

The Palms and the Passion

At the worship service I attended yesterday, there were two foci. First, we celebrated Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then, the mood of the service shifted as we heard the Passion story from Matthew's gospel. The palm cross on the right symbolizes the blending of Palm Sunday and the Passion story.

For many liturgical churches, the traditional Palm Sunday has become Passion/Palm Sunday. The reason? Very few persons attend Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. Therefore, many go from the great celebration of Palm Sunday to the greater celebration of Easter without engaging what happened during Holy Week. Namely, Jesus' Passion.

The word passion comes from the Latin passio which means "to suffer." Jesus certainly suffers on many levels after the Triumphal Entry. He suffers the betrayal, denial and desertion of his closest followers. He is arrested, suffers a trial that is a mockery of justice, is flogged and crucified. On the cross he is taunted and mocked. Passion is the right word for this series of painful events.

I don't believe that you can fully enter into the joy of Easter without having understood the tragedy of the Passion. These are intertwined and inseparable. You can't have a resurrection without a death. For this reason, I'm glad that Palm Sunday has become Passion/Palm Sunday.

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