Palm Sunday

It Has Begun...

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday March 24, 2024

It has begun. The most solemn days of Christianity has arrived – Holy Week. The entire human life of Jesus Christ on earth, all thirty-three years, will culminate this week. Pay close attention to the readings. Attend all of the liturgies as you can, from Holy Thursday, Good Friday and finally Easter Sunday. The drama of our salvation will unfold before our very eyes. To understand this solemn week more deeply, keep the book of Genesis in the background. We must remember how the mess of sin first started. In Genesis chapter three, we see the fall of humanity with Original Sin through temptation of that darn piece of fruit: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Cf. Genesis 3:1). The serpent is the fallen angel Lucifer. He rebelled against God shortly after he was created because of his idiotic pride. He thought he could live without God. 

Now he sets his sights on corrupting God’s most valuable creation – humanity. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” From this point on sin and death rushes into the world like water bursting through a broken dam. Our heart which was created for relationship with God (Cf. Genesis 1:27) goes astray. We now try to replace the love of God with the same, boring, counterfeit loves: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor.  These classic four false loves will always fail us. They can never deliver the lasting happiness we desperately desire. Yet, we still chose them over and over again. The famous English author and convert to Christianity, C.S. Lewis, said it best: “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” 

How can God get us back? This is the ultimate question. If you were God, how would you win humanity back? Your biggest problem would be free will. You cannot force us to love God, otherwise, you remove our ability to choose. Love by its very definition needs to be a free choice. Enter the genius and beauty of Holy Week. God’s rescue mission will be on full display in the most unexpected of ways. This Palm Sunday, the huge crowds will welcome Jesus as a conquering king. They think he will come like the same, tired, tyrants of human history that think power and military might means victory. That is why the people greet Jesus with the palm branches  as the ancient custom demands. “He will slaughter our enemies and rebuild the Jewish kingdom!” They thought wrongly. You see they wanted more wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. But Jesus is not here for that. He enters Jerusalem to conquer something much more precious – us. He will do it, not through the sword, but with his blood. The same crowd that cheered Jesus with the Palm branches will suddenly take a darker, more sinister turn. Instead of “hosanna,” these same voices will now chant, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” His death upon the glorious cross will be the greatest act of love humanity will ever encounter. My friends, get ready for Holy Week.