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Reflection for Palm Sunday from Bishop Denis

Reflection for Palm Sunday:

This is our Second Holy Week in a time of pandemic. Last year the pandemic was only in its very earliest manifestations; we have learned much in these past twelve months. As we gather we think of those exhausted on the frontline and their huge contribution this past year. We think of too many who are losing their lives to this virus and the too many who have sadly passed on. Those still living with the symptoms, those still in recovery and those responsible for the vaccination rollout.

The upper room on Holy Thursday will be your Upper Room as ceremonies are streamed live once again into your home. Your kitchen table is an extension of the altar here in St. Peter & Paul’s, Portlaoise. We will climb the Hill of Calvary in your home also as we reflect on how our actions or inactions continue to leave Jesus on the Cross. In this Holy Week He is no longer carrying a Cross, He is carrying each one of us, we may be apart for the second Holy Week in succession, celebrating in empty Churches, behind closed doors but we are never on our own.

We associate Palm Sunday with the long gospel, standing until we become somewhat numb in our standing. The only day that comes near to it is Good Friday … another Passion Gospel, this time from St. John. Mark’s gospel today is always read in the Year of Mark – all 119 verses. The text brings us on a journey. Journies aren’t easy. We have been on the journey of this pandemic, for too long and we are all tiring, fraying at the edges. We have lost too much on this journey to stop now. Pope Francis reminds us life is messy, life is tacky, life is rough around the edges. We all much more prefer the neat and tidy, we want to be in control. Palm Sunday allows us to journey with Jesus to a place that is anything but tidy, anything but neat and completely outside our control. 

And so …

As we enter this Holy Week door
Where I am, who am I in it all?
Like the crowd, fervent then fickle
The disciples, sincere but prey to fear,
The leaders, self-serving and vengeful
The women, constant and close
Or the colt, generous and faithful?

Help me, Lord, hear my simple prayer
In these most sacred of days
That I may stay by your side
And learn from your ways[1].

[1] Nesbitt, Fr. Richard: Holy Week Voices from the Holy Land, 2021, pg. 12.