>Palms in our Palms

>It’s Palm Sunday

And  yes, as seen in the post directly below, it IS our anniversary.  This year our anniversary falls on Palm Sunday.  Which isn’t quite as  humbling and embarrassing as when it falls on Holy Thursday or any such thing, but gee golly, it’s close.  
You see, as Catholics, we don’t really do sacraments like Marriage during a penitential season such as Lent.  It’s not done.  Because it’s a season of penance.  Right, quick now, stop.  No jokes about marriage and penance…cmon, tooo easy.  Get your head out of the gutter!  Besides, we are talking about MY marriage which is a gift, no penance, all right?  Right.  But I’m digressing through my digression…ahem.  I am going on the record that we got married in Lent first of all, because we were simply stupid and ignorant.  Second of all because it was spring break, Tom was in med school and we just couldn’t wait.  Because we were madly in love and couldn’t wait another minute, another day or month or season.  That’s my story and I”m sticking to it.  But, really, secondly, because we are pushy and obnoxious and pushed the our favorite priest to go ahead and perform the ceremony because this was the only time we had to get married (ya know, spring break).  So he surely figured it was better to marry us than to NOT and so, he did.  {I wonder if I should confess being a near occasion of sin for him, oh so long ago? Hadn’t thought about that, hmmmm…not entirely kidding….}  Third and last, but most obviously, we got married during Lent because we were obviously NOT living Catholic lives.  Not paying attention to the good stuff or details at all.  Doh.  And thus now….we are living our penance annually by having our anniversary during Lent.  Sigh.  It serves us right.  Talk about perfect justice.  Sheesh.  
Anyhow.  So.  Back to post.
It is Palm Sunday today.
Which means of course, that this is the beginning of HOLY WEEK!  Finally.  Already.  Oh my.
And this means that it is one of the hardest Masses of the year.  And the longest.  This is the Mass where they pass out Palms for us to hold, to re-enact in a tiny way Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.  This is the Mass where small boys in the pews have mock sword fights with the palms as their mother tries to ignore and/or redirect them.  This is another nice connection to the liturgy my Marta knows, as they too pass out palms in her church (Orthodox) in Ethiopia.  This is familiar and known to her, reinforcing her connections in faith, both backward and forward. 
This is the Mass where the gospel passion of Christ is read, with different readers for each part: the Pastor reads Christ, the deacon or seminarian or another parishoner might read as narrator, another will read the part of Pilate/Herod, and then the congregation reads the part of the crowd.  So, yes, exactly, that means that we have to stand there in Mass and say, choke it out, “Crucify Him!”  It is harder than it sounds.  It is the hardest thing to do.  And yet, we must. Because of course, we did.  And do still.  I can’t do this justice.  But Deacon Greg did in his homily for today, so I’m gonna lift a chunk of it, below.  Go read the whole thing tho, if you’d like a good read to step into a mindful Holy Week. 
 Because this is it.  It’s almost done, this tough season.  It might be a tough week.  Instead of cringing, a dear priest, Father Luckas, has advised to face it head on, as a challenge to keep stepping mindfully forward.  To Christ  himself.  And so that is what I thought about in Mass today, as I held my palms in my hands, in my palms, and I also had to say “Crucify Him.” And, “Jesus, Remember me, when you come into  your kingdom..”  And blink back the tears.  
Just as it should be.  
From Deacon Greg: read, begin Holy Week:
This week is the only time that the gospel is proclaimed by someone besides a priest or deacon – every individual in this church takes part.
It’s a great privilege. And it – literally — gives us a role in Christ’s passion.
But what do we say? What lines are we given?
“Not this one! Barabbas!”
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
“Crucify him!”
“Take him away, crucify him!”
We cry out for vengeance, and we accuse his disciples, and we gamble to see which of us will get his cloak. We mock him.
We are the mob. And we cruelly assist in condemning Christ to death.
And the great irony, of course, is that we do it while clutching these palms.
They are a reminder – and an indictment. While we were standing here, crying out “Crucify him!,” we were clutching the branches that we used to sing out “Hosanna.” The palms reveal our very human duplicity. How easily we turn. How quickly we pivot from faithful, to faithless … from belief to doubt … from being disciples, to being betrayers.
We start out acting like angels, singing “Hosanna.” And we end up just being the mob.
It can sometimes be that way throughout the church. The headlines this week have told the story. Men called to holiness can be guilty of appalling sins. Sins of abuse. Sins of neglect. Sins of dishonesty. Sins of betrayal.
And yet, to be a part of the body of Christ is to be with him on the cross. The Catholic writer Ronald Rolheiser has put it powerfully. “To be a member of the church,” he wrote, “is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul….because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.”
And all we can do sometimes is echo the words of the one thief, words we heard just a few moments ago: “Jesus, remember me.” That moment is the only one in any of the gospels where someone calls Jesus by his given name. Maybe it is because it is at this moment – the hour of his death — that he is most like us. He hangs there, stripped, beaten, betrayed. He hangs among thieves. This is what we have done to our God. And this is what we continue to do, even today. 
 
Have a blessed Holy Week!

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