Written by Sunnie Lain, Director of Conferences and Community Outreach.
Palm Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. For Catholic Christians, this week celebrates the core of our beliefs—that Jesus was born to save the world and to send us forth to love and serve others in his name. Palm Sunday takes its name because Catholics are given palm fronds to be used in the reenactment of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem during Holy Week liturgy. The Gospels tell us that as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, the people of the city threw palms in front of him as a sign of respect and honor. As we know, however, by the end of Holy Week, our Lord was crucified.
Jesus was fully divine, but he was also fully human. He understood what is to know anger, frustration, fear, and love. Over and over again, he called on his followers to love God and their neighbors, and to do these things in his name. Over and over again, he told us to care for the poor and the suffering. In Matthew Chapter 25, he tells us, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
As Vincentians, we serve people who know suffering, deprivation, fear, and loneliness. It is our calling to help to alleviate those feelings through material and spiritual assistance. We believe that we have an opportunity to see Christ to those we serve. We don’t see the triumphant Messiah that some expected to see when Christ arrived in Jerusalem, but a bruised, beaten, exposed, vulnerable Christ who lived as we do, suffered as we do, and died as we will. We see the poor as “Jesus in disguise”.
Many times, the people we serve feel powerless and hopeless. They may feel that their story is already written, and that it will be a story of hopelessness and want. But Vincentians see it another way. We strive to see the potential in the people we serve and to work them not only to address their immediate needs, but to give them hope for the future. Five days after Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem he was nailed to a cross. But that wasn’t the end of his story.
In fact, it was just the beginning.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we realize that every day You relive Your passion and death so that we may have life. Help us to be conscious of this and also aware of the part we play in Your relived sufferings. It is through Your passion and death that we have been reconciled with our Father and now have an opportunity to have life. Help us now to look forward to Your resurrection and the assurance that we have life in You. We ask all things of You in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
–Vincentian Stations of the Cross, M. Syslo