If there is one universal truth of Palm Sunday it is this: If you give a child a palm, it will immediately become a sword. Well before Palm Sunday Mass starts each year, we have already broken up fights and confiscated palms. This strikes me every year because I can only imagine at that very first Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, children were doing that too. And parents were scolding them. “Stop that! Jesus could come around that corner at any second!”
We have a vision of these moments with Jesus being perfect, but the lives of first century Jews were messy just like ours.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, time didn’t stop, and real life kept happening. These families heard a rumor that Jesus of Nazareth was coming into town and they stopped what they were doing and drug their kids out to see him.
On that first Palm Sunday, the palms were not the most important gift they were offering to Jesus.
What they offered was themselves, and the lives they set aside when the moment to encounter Jesus came to them. Think of the things that didn’t get done in their homes as they went out into the streets that day. They pulled pots off the stove and set dinner aside. They left wet laundry sitting in the basket, half hung to dry. They left plows sitting in the field with soil untilled. This is the offering they made to Jesus: when the moment to encounter Jesus came, they dropped what they were doing and gave their lives to Jesus.
This is, I hope, what we are doing today, even in the chaos in our present circumstance.
We all have times when we feel that Mass interrupts our lives, and dare I say, wastes our time. We sit and think of all the things that we aren’t getting done in our homes or for work. Don’t be ashamed of this. Those Jews shouting “Hosanna” on the streets of Jerusalem that day, felt the same way, but they were still there.
They made the choice, just like we do by committing to Mass on Palm Sunday, to encounter Jesus despite all of the other things demanding your attention. After Palm Sunday Mass, we usually all go home and hang our palms up around our homes. We stick them behind holy water fonts. We lay them on top of the mantle. We place them on our dashboards. Throughout Holy Week, and hopefully the rest of the year, we usually see them and remember; these palms are not my offering to Jesus. My life is my offering to Jesus.
This year, the offering of our lives is even more important, especially when we have no palms in our hands.
Remember those things that you didn’t get done this week when you decided to present yourself to Jesus because you saw that he was presenting himself to you. Go ahead and think of the things you won’t get done if you take the time to observe the Triduum services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
These are the offerings of Palm Sunday. These are the offerings of Holy Week.
In making ourselves available to Jesus, despite our messy lives and our children poking each other with or without palms, we offer our lives to Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead, not to redeem our perfect lives. He rose to redeem us in our messes. Use these moments to have the most perfect encounter with Jesus that you can have: the encounter with the risen Jesus on Easter morning. This is the encounter we get to have all year long, every time we meet Jesus in the Mass and in our own homes.