This week we celebrate Palm (Passion) Sunday and look towards Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum.
This Sunday has two names, “Palm” and “Passion”, because we celebrate two distinct and yet connected realities and hear from two gospel accounts. At the entrance to the Church we hear the first gospel account of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. Sometimes we hear Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem described as triumphal. I think these words from Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt written in 1962 provide a keen insight into Jesus’ entry; While Jesus was fulfilling His priestly, prophetic and royal mission on earth, He truly lived in the midst of His people. He did not officiate in a cathedral. He was not a university teacher. He was not seated on a throne. To His first apostles who were to become His intimates, He simply said: Follow me. To become a disciple of Christ implied going with Him in the midst of crowds. He trained His disciples then and there through personal experience. (De Smedt, The Priesthood of the faithful, 1962). Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on an elephant or on a chariot or even on a horse. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey! This fact alone is ripe for prayer and reflection. From this gospel account we then are drawn into Christ’s Passion which leads us into Holy Week and the holiest days of the Christian calendar the Triduum.
The Triduum is a three-day celebration. The Easter Triduum begins with the night of Holy Thursday. It marks the end of the forty days of Lent and the start of the Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday.
Holy Thursday is sometimes referred to as the “Mass of the Last Supper” and we reflect profoundly of Christ’s ministry of service as our feet are washed. The solemn tone is made evident as the altar is stripped bare and the Blessed Sacrament adored.
Good Friday marks the second day and we celebrate of the Passion of the Lord. We hear the words from the Prophet Isaiah and in them see Christ the suffering servant, He surrendered himself to death, while bearing the faults of many.
Easter vigil/Easter Sunday is the third day and the highpoint of our Christian faith. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (CCC 1169).