To many, a pilgrimage is a long journey to a new, unknown place, with stops along the way to explore historic and religious sites.
As we prepare for Holy Week 2020, during which we are confined to our homes, it seems hard to imagine being on a pilgrimage this year. Yet, Holy Week is the perfect opportunity for us as a Roman Catholic Family of Faith to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage, an interior conversion of our hearts from the ordinary to the eternal, from despair to hope, from self-interest to care for our brother and sister, and from darkness to the light of Christ.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of this spiritual pilgrimage. It is Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This liturgical feast is named for the palm branches the crowds spread on the ground, as a sign of His kingship, as Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem.
The Palm Sunday Mass also is known for the recitation of the Passion Gospel, a retelling of the account of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. This year we will hear Saint Matthew’s version of the Gospel. Unique to this liturgy and Good Friday’s, the Gospel is read in three parts: one speaker recites the words of Christ, a second is the narrator, and the third speaks for the crowd.
More than five weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, we heard “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” The ashes have long been washed away. But the story of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection stays with us – offering silent testimony, bearing witness, calling on us not to forget the One we are called to follow.
As we enter into the pilgrimage of Holy Week, may we, like the crowds, welcome Jesus into our home, and more importantly, into our hearts, so that we may experience a true spiritual conversion that leads to the joy of the Resurrection.
This is the first of several articles this week by Father Keith Mathur, director of the Office for Divine Worship, about the special liturgies of Holy Week.