Palm Sunday. A special blessing, a distribution, a procession.
You grip the little shaft of greenery in your hand. This frail spike is now a sword of protection and bearer of graces—but how did it become special? Why were palms singled out to receive unique blessings?
The answer lies back in the warm valleys of Jericho—3,000 years previous to the moment in which you held your blessed palm branch.
Date palms were very important to the Jews as they traversed the land with household, tent, and livestock. The palms revealed the presence of a lush valley. They meant food, shelter, nearby water, and even building materials.
It’s no surprise, then, that carrying a branch in one’s hand came to signify joy.
In I Maccabees, the Jews who remained faithful to the Torah fought to regain Israel from the Greek pagans. When they liberated Jerusalem, the faithful Jews rushed to the palms and cut boughs from them. They entered Jerusalem holding the palms to express their jubilance. A sense of victory was therefore added to the joy symbolized in the palm branch.
That is why the people of Jerusalem greeted Our Lord with palm branches and Hosannas when He came to the city. He was their king, their healer, their provider and they rejoiced at His coming.
Since that time, Catholics have carried blessed palms the week before Easter to welcome Jesus as our King. The palms are our proclamation of Him as a conquering hero, victorious over death.
After Palm Sunday we plunge into the woe of Holy Week. This week is the final time of preparation for what comes after the Passion—the glory, hope, and joy of the Resurrection. Get ready with our magnificent Resurrection Angel Stained Glass Panel, hanging it in a light-filled window to remind yourself that the angels rejoice with us. Depicts Tiffany’s adoring Angel of the Resurrection in vivid, royal hues. Available today at The Catholic Company!