I have always loved Palm Sunday for as long as I can remember. There is something so unique and festive when we attend a Palm Sunday service, making our procession into church with lovely Palm crosses in our hands, and singing “Ride on! Ride on in Majesty!” The celebration is so joyous and spontaneous, and the fact that Jesus was actually going up to Jerusalem to suffer and die for us seemed to be so far away.
As it happened, three years ago I was given a new experience that enabled me to see Palm Sunday in a new light. I remember it was Lent, 2013, and during all those weeks I was taken up with getting treatments for cancer in a downtown hospital. I had to make a daily trip for my radiation therapy for five weeks, including on my birthday. This new experience brought me more in touch with the reality of mortality, especially when I met so many other patients along the way. However, it was not a negative experience. I was often filled with a sense of peace and gratitude, that I did not go through the ordeal alone. Jesus suffered for me, and He understood how I felt. His presence was with me in every treatment room. The fact that it was Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter made my illness more symbolic and easier to endure. To my surprise, I found it a truly healing experience.
Since then, Palm Sunday and Easter are never the same to me again. I still enjoy the pomp and special celebrations, but now I appreciate Palm Sunday at a deeper level. What Jesus must be thinking as he rode into Jerusalem in triumph, fully aware of the Passion that awaited him at the end. Yet He graciously enjoyed the Last Supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, and took care to prepare them for what was to come. While His love and humanity touch me deeply, Palm Sunday and Easter fill me with Hope.
May this year’s Holy Week and Easter bring us much peace and joy!
May Kong lives in Toronto and is an Associate of Holy Cross Priory