By Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo Diocese (https://CatholicDioceseOyo.org)
Palm Sunday is the celebration of the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem the place where he was to be crucified. Also known as Passion Sunday, it is the beginning of Holy Week, the holiest week in Christendom in which Christians celebrate the most intense moments of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the first Sunday during the year when the faithful listen together during worship, to the full account of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that Jesus embarked resolutely on his way to Jerusalem in spite of the fate that awaited him and spoke the truth courageously. Coming out to meet him in procession and exultation, the faithful carried palm fronds and branches in his honour, as is still done today. The gesture signifies victory and well-being, as the palm tree is normally regarded as a provider of shade, shelter, beauty stately dignity and even nourishment. Carrying it is therefore a prayer and a desire, for sustainability of life and humanity. In Jerusalem, the people threw the palms in the path of Jesus in recognition of him as a servant leader and king.
Palm Sunday and its relationship to the passion of Jesus Christ reminds us all that true glory is only found in self-giving and sacrifice. Sadly, many parts of the world today are in turmoil and suffer from selfish and unjust leaders. In Nigeria for example the only things that seem sustainable are corruption, injustice, hypocrisy and impunity in high and low places. The country however needs courageous, servant-leaders and individuals who like, Jesus, courageously speak the truth and live by it.
Everybody has a role
Christians, Muslims and all others must ride the colt of courage at all times, wearing the garment of truth and justice, into this Jerusalem and speak the truth to all those who would suppress it. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem affirms God’s sovereignty over all other powers. It challenges all leaders to lead with the fear of God, lay down their own lives in service and rather than exploit and destroy their own people for their selfish interests. It also invites all the citizens to recognize, applaud and support good, unselfish leaders who work for peace and reconciliation. Like the palm branches, we must all be bearers of shelter, beauty, life and sustenance to those we meet.