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The Palm of Martyrdom on the Path to Jerusalem
By Chris Sparks (Mar 29, 2015)
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and He sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding Him and those following kept crying out and saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest." And when He entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, "Who is this?"
And the crowds replied, "This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee." — Mt 21:7-11
Palm Sunday and Good Friday are bookends of the spiritual life in a lot of ways. We welcome Christ as liberator, as Savior, as King of our lives and Lord of our hearts — when we think we're going to get what we want. When He begins to act as Lord and demands of us that which we don't wish to sacrifice, that obedience that runs contrary to our desires, our hopes, our fears, our plans, then suddenly He becomes a King crowned with thorns on a throne of pain, beckoning us to join Him on the wood. But without the Cross, there is no Resurrection.
Without putting our disordered desires to death, they shall never rise again filled with supernatural life, oriented toward the love at the heart of the Trinity, as God intends. Without accepting the pains of study and intellectual labor — our crown of thorns — our intellects will never be enlightened with the light of heaven and the radiance of the Three-in-One. Without bending our backs to the yoke of the cross and patiently enduring the long labor of Calvary, our wills shall remain weak, unable to desire the good as God intends, with the ferocity and passion of the fire of the Holy Spirit.
This is Christianity: We must die to live; we must sacrifice to receive; we must surrender the natural in order to receive the natural made supernatural by grace.
So let us welcome our King, the Son of David, with hosannas. Let us lay our palms beneath the feet of His mount, and never forget that the palm is an ancient symbol of martyrdom. He comes, yes, this crucified and risen King in His glory, and mercies stream from His hands and side. He is radiant, yes, a light to the nations — but remember that this light searches all, sees all, calls us to repent of all sin, to struggle with every vice, to lay everything down in order to receive Him, for when we receive Him, we receive all that is good along with Him.
Do not be afraid, for Christ is with us. The science of the Cross is the wisdom of God, and a path of life and light for us all, if only we have the love and humility to walk it. So sing hosanna to the King who comes in the Name of the Lord, and pray for the grace and strength to walk with Him all the way from joy to pain to death to resurrection and glory. Ask His faithful Mother for her prayers and for a share in her love for Him, for it is only with a love like hers that we will be able to walk the long road of Christian discipleship, dying to self the entire way, until the day comes when all things are made new in Jesus Christ our Lord.