Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord

“The palms we take home and put in a special place serve to remind us that Palm Sunday is not lost to the ages but that by Christ’s victory we, too, can achieve everlasting life. ‘For us too, they [palms] must be symbols of triumph, indicative of the victory to be won in our battle against the evil in ourselves and against the evil which roams about us. As we receive the blessed palm, let us renew our pledge to conquer with Jesus, but let us not forget that it was on the cross that He conquered’ (“Divine Intimacy,” Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., Tan Books, 1997, pp. 392-393).” –D.D. Emmons

This weekend we receive a simple palm with meaning so deep. Most of us realize that we wave them in praise and adoration of our Lord, much as those who greeted Jesus during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (And this year, we wave them, perhaps, all the more exuberantly given that we weren’t able to do so last year while in “lock down”!) But, they are “indicative of the victory to be won in our battle…”? I had never thought of the palm in this way before, relating it to myself, my personal battle…

Lately, we’ve been encouraged to pick up and wave something else, too: a white flag, the symbol of surrender. Fr. Brian spoke about surrender during the 4th Sunday of Lent, and Dcn. Dave again referred to it last weekend. And in picturing us all gathered together again waving our palms after this past year of Covid, I couldn’t help but imagine each of us waving a white flag for the Lord, too. How would our parish be different? How would our lives look different? How would we be different?

Surrender can be scary! I know I’m still working my way toward it. Having read St. Alphonsus Liguori’s “Uniformity with God’s Will,” I’ve had to grapple with uniting my will with the Lord’s, conforming my heart to his…in essence, surrendering. In that grappling, the Lord has revealed: Uniformity with God’s will doesn’t mean going through life saying robotically “yes,” “ok, Lord,” “all is well”; rather, it is an adventure where our acceptance of his will allows us to know what his will is, through asking, through hearing. It is not the surrender to being tossed about like a ragdoll; it is surrender of self to God’s purposeful plan both for ourselves and for others.

The word “surrender” can have negative connotations…defeat, giving in, giving up. But in the beauty of the Lord’s plan, how sweet and different is surrendering to him! It is not defeat at all…it is a joining of forces. It is not giving in, it is a letting go. It is not giving up, it is an agreement to go “all in.”

When we surrender to the Lord, we join forces with him. As St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” When we surrender to the Lord, we let go of pride, fear, resentment, lust, jealousy, worry, wounds, etc. When we surrender to the Lord, we agree to accept and follow his Divine will in all.

The cross was Jesus’ white flag as he united His will with his Father’s; it is our white flag, too! Just as Jesus surrendered all on the cross, he calls us to surrender all…to pick up our cross and follow him!

As we wave our palms this weekend entering into Holy Week, as we take them home to place in a special area as a reminder of the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, let us also wave them as a sign of His triumphal entry into our hearts, hearts that have decided to journey deeper into surrender, to allow the Lord and his will and his love to permeate every aspect of their lives.

Praying that you have a Holy Week that is blessed!

Shayne Slough

Director of Parish Life

The battle rages on
As storm and tempest roar
We cannot win this fight
Inside our rebel hearts
We’re laying down our weapons now
We raise our white flag
We surrender
All to you
All for you
We raise our white flag
The war is over
Love has come
Love has won
Here on this holy ground
You made a way for peace
Laying your body down
You took our rightful place
This freedom song is marching on…
–Matt Maher