April 22, 2024

Palm Sunday ushers in the Holy Week. It commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where palm branches were waved by the crowd to meet and honor Christ as He entered the city.
This annual celebration which was observed since the end of the fourth century up to the present time serves as a reminder to Christians to welcome Jesus into their hearts and follow His teachings. After all, the foundation of Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
To refresh our memory, Jesus was a Jew and went to Jerusalem to join the feast of the Passover. In Judaism, the Passover is an important holiday celebrating the Hebrew’s liberation from slavery in Egypt.
When the Pharaoh refused the pleas of the prophet Moses to let the Hebrews leave Egypt, God smote the land but before doing so, the Jews were told by Moses to paint their front doors with the blood of the lamb, so that they will be spared from the forces of destruction that would come upon the land, and their firstborn spared from the Israelites. With their doors painted, the destruction “passed over” their houses. When the pharaoh’s firstborn son died, he allowed Moses and his people to leave Egypt thus freeing them from slavery.
The Holy Week is actually the culmination of the Lenten season in the Christian liturgical year. It is during this week that the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s work of redemption is manifested principally by His passion, death, resurrection and glorious ascension.
Lent is derived from the Middle English word “lente” which means springtime, and is in itself descended from the Old English word “lencten”.
But modern English still keeps the word “Lenten” to denote “meager” or “meatless”, as it is during this period that fasting and abstinence are observed. What is more popularly known and used word in the dominantly Christian country like the Philippines is the Spanish word “cuaresma” to denote the 40 days of fasting and abstinence during this period.
This is one of the lasting influences, even a legacy, of Spain to our country’s culture and tradition which is devoutly practiced for centuries up to the present time.
During Lent, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the days when fasting and abstinence are obligatory for Catholics. Fridays during Lent are also days of abstinence.
When we were young, our parents, following the mandates of the Church, required us to fast or skip a meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and to abstain from eating meat on Lenten Fridays.
Abstention extended to listening on the radio, watching a movie or gallivanting with friends or playing any musical instrument and singing. It was easier to observe such practices then because we naturally avoided the temptation of television and transistor radios which were yet to be invented.
Now, it is more difficult to observe fasting and abstinence, what with all the temptations easily available and at hand. It all depends upon the person’s will if ever the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ in giving up his life so that mankind can be redeemed from their sins have any meaning to his life at all.
It would help a lot for people to understand why mankind needed redemption. We must remember that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God, they were driven away from paradise for the sin they committed. That original sin of Adam and Eve would pass to every man and could not enter the kingdom of God.
But God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth who taught mankind the essence of love that must prevail and manifested this kind of love by sacrificing his life so that God shall grant salvation to whosoever believes in Him and faithfully repent for his sins.
Thus, the door to heaven remains opened to the penitent, all made possible by the love of Jesus Christ for all mankind.
A meaningful and blessed Holy Week to everyone.