[REFLECTIONS] Don’t get tired of waving your palms

Father Benjamin B. Espiritu III

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[REFLECTIONS] Don’t get tired of waving your palms
Proclaim our coming victory over this pandemic, a victory only possible if we don't give up on ourselves, if we don't give up on each other, if we don't give up on God



It’s a first in world history: an online Holy Week for millions of people, even in Vatican City, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rappler presents a series of reflections to help you, our reader, enter the spirit of Holy Week even in quarantine.

Today is Palm Sunday. Unlike any other Sunday, today’s Mass has two Gospel readings: one of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the latter, Jesus’s passion and death. In the first Gospel reading, we hear of how Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, while people welcomed him with palm branches. Today, we relive this experience – we do not just reenact. We relive the experience as we ourselves happily welcome Jesus into our lives as our savior.

However, after a triumphant beginning, things turn a different flavor during the readings – especially with the second Gospel reading. It seems like a party pooper of sorts, for the ticker-tape parade we just celebrated. It seems to not fit our celebration. It’s still Palm Sunday, yet what we hear sounds more like Good Friday. Why? 

I think this is because one can never really separate Palm Sunday from Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. His triumphant entry into Jerusalem is only triumphant in the context of his coming passion and death. Understood this way, it’s as if we already celebrate in anticipation of his coming victory. And yet, the victory comes after the passion and death.

And this is the truth of our Christian calling, we who proclaim Christ as savior and Lord. It’s easy for us to wave our palms and shout our hosannas when life is good. When things go smoothly. When we live in peace, and things go in our favor. 

However, times come when things are not so good. When we are left helpless. When we find ourselves in a tight situation. When we call out to heaven and our prayers seem to be unanswered. Would we be like the frustrated crowd who once shouted hosanna for Jesus whom they thought would liberate them from their oppressors, only to shout “Crucify him!” when their supposed liberator is captured, tried, and sentenced, without a fight?

These are difficult times. We don’t even know when this pandemic will end. We are not even sure about the best way to fight it. When many of us are just reduced to helplessly staying at home so we reduce the risk of getting the virus or of spreading it. When what we can do is just a little more than sit and wait and pray for the best. Do we still wave our palms?

These difficult times can tire us. We can get tired from waiting and waiting. We can get frustrated with not being able to do what we normally do. This is not the normal life. Many people in the Philippines – especially daily wage earners – are already suffering for lack of resources. People can get tired of dole outs, of relief goods, of packing bags of groceries and distributing food to the needy. We can all get tired – most especially those at the front lines – those who risk their lives to fight the virus, those who risk their safety just so we can live rather comfortably in these uncomfortable times. And we can get tired and frustrated with God.

When that happens, we can be like the crowd whose loud hosannas have turned sour. We can get tired of waving our palms and just go with the angry mob shouting: “Crucify him!” 

And yet, today we are invited to raise our palms a little higher, to shout our hosannas a little louder, and to wait it out a little longer, for being with our Lord does not end in defeat. 

DON’T GET TIRED OF WAVING YOUR PALMS. Let our Palm Sunday celebration be as it was: a celebration in anticipation of his coming victory. A victory only possible with him and through him.

DON’T GET TIRED OF WAVING YOUR PALMS. Just as doctors and medical staff keep taking care of the sick even while risking their own health. Just as experts keep finding medicines and solutions to this pandemic. Just as people keep finding ways to help the needy at this time.

DON’T GET TIRED OF WAVING YOUR PALMS. Just as many people continue to keep things running so we all can get through this crisis – grocery workers, drugstore and bank staff, those in government and private agencies. AND WE WHO STAY AT HOME – THIS IS OUR PART.

DON’T GET TIRED OF WAVING YOUR PALMS. Proclaim our coming victory over this pandemic, a victory only possible if we do not give up on ourselves, if we do not give up on each other, if we do not give up on God. Hold on to your palms. Hold on to hope. Palm Sunday is a Sunday of Christian hope.


Father Benjamin B. Espiritu III is a newly ordained priest serving the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga. A graduate of the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary, he is currently assigned as Parochial Vicar of the Parroquia de la Inmaculada Concepcion in Guagua, Pampanga.


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