“Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.” (Luke 19:28)
We begin today’s liturgy with the blessing of the palms and the reading of the gospel of Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Those first moments of today’s Mass are sometimes forgotten after the long reading of the passion, but it merits our attention as we begin Holy Week. When we hear that Jesus is going to Jerusalem at the beginning of the liturgy it is because “the Church anticipates her response to the Gospel saying: `Let us follow the Lord.’ This clearly expresses the theme of Palm Sunday…Being Christian means considering the way of Jesus Christ as the right way for being human as that way which leads to our destination, to a completely fulfilled and authentic humanity…being Christian is a path or, better, a pilgrimage; it is to travel with Jesus Christ, to journey in the direction he has pointed out and is pointing out to us.” Pope Benedict XVI preached those words on Palm Sunday six years ago, and they still resonate today.
When we finish that gospel reading at the beginning of the liturgy, the priest invites the people to follow the Lord as we wave our palms during the procession. Today I invite you to do the same as we begin this most holiest of weeks. Follow the Lord. Walk in his footsteps. Humility is required to walk in the footsteps of another, but the second reading today reminds us that humility is a virtue that our Lord embraced when he became human and obediently accepted death on a cross. I finish with the words of Pope Francis from this morning who echoed what his predecessor said five years ago: “Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the crucifix; it is `the royal seat of God.”