Monday, March 25, 2013

Don't Miss the Forest for the Palms

What do you do with your palm? You know, the ones you get today and take home? I’ve seen various uses:

  • Some people braid them very beautifully (certainly, though, not during Mass!)
  • Some do an origami-esque trick to shape them into crosses
  • Some tie them around their rear-view mirrors in their cars
  • Some take them home and set them behind a holy image or picture

There’s no “right” thing to do with them – they are “sacramentals” – objects used to remind us of faith and of some aspect of it.

What did those folks on that first “Palm Sunday” do with theirs, though? Sure, they lined the streets of Jerusalem with them as a “royal carpet” for Jesus in His triumphant entry into the city. They waved them in glad adoration as they proclaimed Him “the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” and echoed the song of the Christmas angles: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

However, they left those palms there.

A few short days later, that same Lord was dragged through the same streets after His arrest (did He notice the trampled palms?); He was led, beaten and bruised, through the streets again to the place of His crucifixion – thrown out of the same city He enters so triumphantly today.

The palms meant nothing more to the people.

So, what do we do?

We remember.

Jesus offers us a choice, as He comes among us – He, who shared the same suffering and death as two thieves. We can respond in one of two ways. Like the first thief, we can seek Him to take away our suffering and make everything OK so we don’t have to deal with pain and difficulty, and mock Him when we don’t get what we want; or, like the good thief, we can recognize our Lord in the midst of those sufferings – redeeming us!

We will take these palms home today, probably. We can use them in a variety of ways. However, my prayer is that each time you see them, they are reminders of the Lord whom they acclaim; of the sacrifice He offers for you; of the salvation we share in His name.

There is a fine line, it seems, between the “Hosannas” and the “Crucify Hims!” However, we walk that line, with the Lord, aware that He alone gives us the balance to stand.

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