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Palm Sunday, Year C, 14.04.19: Palms Evergreen

I always remember as a boy finding it difficult to make a Cross out of the palm you
got on Palm Sunday. I also remember how quickly the palm placed behind the
crucifix at home went from green to that faded, dried-up, yellowish colour. By the
time Palm Sunday came around again the next year, the palm was well and truly
I was thinking of these things as I contemplated the Word of God for our Mass today.
One minute we are processing in with palms and songs of jubilation in honour of
Jesus; yet, some fifteen minutes later we are pondering the horrors of his passion.
How quickly the shouts of joy and acclamation of Jesus withered away to the baying
yells to crucify him! The palms of hosanna to the Son of David mutated within only
a few days into the Cross of scoffing of the Son of God.
How true this is also in our own lives. The joys we experience often do not last and
are replaced with sadness and suffering. Sometimes the shift occurs overnight as in
the sudden death of a loved one, the sudden departure of a spouse from the marriage,
the unexpected onset of a serious illness.
But the opposite is also true. The tragedy of the Cross does itself become the
instrument of the restoration of joy – and not of any joy but of a joy that will never
end. Suffering lived in union with the Son of God becomes the seed of eternal life.
The palms will again flourish evergreen. The Cross will again unravel to become the
palm branches held by the redeemed in the presence of God, as the book of the
Apocalypse says.
In our own lives, the suffering of loneliness can suddenly turn to the joy of new
friendship, of new love. People recover unexpectedly from misfortune; broken
relationships perchance find their way to reconciliation and healing.
Yes, death is an unavoidable fact of our mortal life, but because of the Cross, immortal
life is now the inevitable destruction of death. Not the Cross, but the palms are what
we will hold in our hand in eternity. Not withered yellow but verdant green will be
the colour of those palms. Not sorrow, but everlasting joy will be our fate. And all
because our humble God became a humble man; and that humble man endured
humiliation for our sake; so that from the humility of our human condition he might
raise us up with himself to the throne of the living God.
We ask our humble Lord Jesus on this day to strengthen us to endure, as did he, the
bitter-sweetness of our earthly pilgrimage. We ask him to help us place all our trust
in the power of the eternal Father to bring us through death to our destiny of eternal
joy, just as he did out of divine love for his ever-blessed and dearly beloved Son, the
King of Glory and lover of our souls.
Now and unto eternity, ten thousand times ten thousand hosannas to you, Son of
David, Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God!