Sunday, 20 March 2016

Palm Sunday Reflection

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
(No.186) By Susanne Timpani

…and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial." 22:46

I once watched a National Geographic documentary on Jerusalem's annual Palm Sunday procession.  How thrilled was I to recognize myself, along with a group of fellow travellers, right in the thick of the crowd!

A number of years ago, I travelled to the Holy Land, with a group of young friends, to celebrate the events of Easter. The Palm Sunday procession heralded the beginning of an amazing pilgrimage experience.

On Good Friday we joined hundreds of Christians processing along the path believed to be that of Jesus’ final steps, the Via_Dolorosa.

The Old City of Jerusalem has changed very little in appearance since Jesus’ time. As we weaved our way through market stalls and back streets, the locals largely ignored us. The residents of the City are mostly Jews or Muslims and for them Good Friday has no religious significance. 

I wondered if Jesus had felt ignored. Criminals carried crosses through the streets on a regular basis. How many people actually cared? What went through Jesus’ mind as vendors went about their business? Surely He would have questioned the meaning of His suffering?

The night before this procession – Holy Thursday – we joined a group in an ‘Upper Room’ and re-enacted the Last Supper. When the meal finished we left the room and followed ‘Jesus’ and his ‘disciples’ outside and travelled to the Garden of Gethsemane.

As we entered the Garden we passed a group of ‘soldiers’ laughing while they stood and warmed their hands around a bonfire.

The Gospel re-enactment continued. ‘Jesus’ pleaded with us to stay awake and wait with Him. My heart ached as the irreverent laughter from  the soldiers penetrated the silence in the Garden. 

How utterly alone Jesus must have felt. In His moment of dire need, no one stayed awake with Him.

I treasure the memories from that Easter pilgrimage. Each year they help me to enter into the spirit of Holy Week. But we don’t have to physically visit ‘holy sites’ to experience the meaning of this special time.

We have the Word of God that draws us into that experience. Holy Week is a time to stay awake with Jesus as He prays. Being faithful to ten minutes of quiet prayer a day is one way to help us prepare for Easter.

Read the scripture slowly.
Reflect on its meaning for you. 
Listen for God's voice in the stillness. 
Pray for God's blessing upon you.