Sunday, April 14, 2024

Traditions of Palm Sunday Celebrated by Bishop Senior Surrounded by His Faithful Flock at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Brilliant sunshine splashed the front façade of St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on March 24 as Bishop Timothy Senior blessed the palms as more than 500 faithful gathered outside to commemorate the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey colt.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion and Holy Week and it will be Bishop Senior’s first celebration of the Easter Triduum as Bishop of Harrisburg.

The Gospel Passion reading was from St. Mark the Evangelist, who paints the Lord’s growing isolation throughout the week, His twelve apostles not grasping the events unfolding, and His ultimate tortured death on the cross. Bishop Senior spoke to St. Mark’s account, which stresses Christ’s increasing understanding that His devoted followers will betray, deny and flee in fear as He is condemned to the cross on Mount Calvary.

“Once again, we have come here to the holiest week of the year, and St. Mark’s Gospel is not just a recounting of history, but it is a living story in each Christian’s life,” Bishop Senior said. “There is a progressive detachment of the apostles and they just do not get it right, even though Jesus told them that they were going to Jerusalem and why. There is a profound lack of understanding, and Jesus gets more and more alone. It is easy to judge the apostles, but this is us, too.”

Bishop Senior’s insights included the fact that the apostles ran from Jesus and were not there at the cross as his blood flowed out of his side. “We run, too, sometimes when we are faced in the human condition with a challenging situation,” the bishop said. “Who are you in the Passion story? We need to ask that question.”

In addition, he noted that the only person in St. Mark’s account to recognize and state publicly that Jesus truly was the Son of Man is the Roman centurion, the brute soldier whom Pontus Pilate specifically put in charge of the actual details of the crucifixion. Surely, the soldier says as Christ is dying, this man is the Christ. “The centurion gets it, the apostles do not,” Bishop Senior told the faithful. “As we enter into this week and the Gospel, we might have that same detachment the apostles did…. In a moment of distress when you go to the tomb, you discover the tomb empty and that Jesus is risen for us.”

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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