In my childhood we did not go to church every Sunday. We were more the Christmas-Easter attendees that were mocked on regular Sundays. Yet I always remember going to church on Palm Sunday; it was my favorite. Perhaps we went because my mother was trying to excuse herself from Easter Sunday Mass, and I can’t blame her. In the Catholic Church, those wanting to convert received the sacraments of baptisms, first communion, and confirmation all at an Easter Mass. Sometimes the procession takes 2 or 3 hours.
But anyway, we were always present at a Palm Sunday service, marking the entrance into the Holy week in which Jesus shared his last supper with his disciples and then was betrayed, sentenced, crucified, and buried. This week of last moments, trials, and heartache makes Easter the Christian celebration that grew into a religious movement two millenniums ago.
Don’t stop reading—I’m not going to start a homily about my beliefs. I simply want to defend why this Sunday of all other calendar Sundays is my favorite—it’s because of the story. If nowhere else in the Bible, it is Matthew 26 and 27 that Jesus appears to be truly human. He tries to accept the prophecies of his death, yet he is afraid. He takes his followers to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for the exact things I pray for every time I take knee in church—for strength, for endurance. And then there are his aggravations with the disciples for falling asleep, the betraying kiss of Judah, and crowd, who seven days before was praising his glory, then calling for his death. The Catholic tradition has the stations of the cross—Jesus’ falling three times, Simon taking the cross for a piece, Mother Mary coming towards her son—before Jesus dies hanging on that cross between two criminals.
It’s compelling stuff and sometimes, as a collective world faith, I fear the true grit of Jesus is lost in praise. He, himself, had faith in the scripture and did not know exactly how his end would come. Dying on the cross he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And as child, I found this chilling. The character, the man, the deity—whatever you believe him to be—died alone with a harsh sense of being forsaken. This is the passion that, I think, subconsciously if not consciously beacons people to worship Jesus Christ.
It could just be a fantastic story of fiction with great advertising and networking strategies, but I find too much truth in what’s being taught to really believe that.
On this day what I have decided to blog about religion, I’d like to make a viral prayer submission for my friends Heather and Tiffany who have lost their grandfather this weekend.