Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Zak and Jenny, the two donkeys led by Danielle McCauley

The celebration of Palm Sunday starts the holiest week of the year. Jesus enters triumphantly into Jerusalem, as people spread clothes on the ground and wave palm branches, while singing Hosanna! But Jesus is not simply walking, but riding a donkey, or as Scripture describes him, a colt of an ass. Ever since I came to Oregon, precisely 9 years ago, I made it a point to acquire a donkey to lead our Palm Sunday procession, both in my parish in John Day as well as here in Baker City. My idea was to re-enact the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The above photo shows the two donkeys I got in 2006, led by Danielle McCauley.

Sam McCauley riding Zak the donkey before the Palm Sunday procession
Last year I was able to convince her brother Sam to also ride the donkey, as we processed towards the Cathedral. Unfortunately one of the donkeys died in 2007, and since then we could only get one donkey, but he’s always been well behaved, braying loudly mid-way through the procession, and enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

Palm branches are popular here in the USA, but many other countries do not have any palms. In Malta as well as in Italy, they use olive branches instead, although someone like the Pope gets a decorative cross made from palms to carry. The Greek Orthodox on the other hand use pussy willow instead of palms or olive branches. As we enter Holy Week, may we find time to focus on the spiritual meaning of these holy days, and reflect on the mysteries of the Eucharist, the Priesthood on Holy Thursday, the Passion and Death of Christ on Good Friday, and ultimately the glorious Resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

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