Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. By a stroke of hey-my-life-is-full-of-the-unexpected, I ended up attending two Palm Sunday masses, both just outside of Boston.
On Palm Sunday, we turn and face the back of the church, and the priest blesses palms (imported, obviously, ain’t no palms this far north) and we read the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem with the people, wild with expectation, shouting their praise just a few days before they urge his crucifixion.
On Palm Sunday, at about the halfway point through the mass, when we usually hear the stories about Jesus, there is a larger production where different people play different voices and, instead of the story about palm branches, there is the story about that friend who used a kiss to betray the best man to ever live; and also the story about a frenzied crowd, thirsty for blood (why, crowd, why?), and we all say “Crucify him, crucify him,” together, from the congregation. We hear and read about the final moments on the cross, the wine-on-a-sponge, the “It is finished.”
It is so much of a story.
I’m slowly constructing an outline of all of the places I want to pray over the next few days. Holy Week is full of interaction on the Catholic-front, and I so deeply desire to enter in.
This past weekend, in the new-to-me church in Boston, I thought about my last Palm Sunday: in a small church just outside of Atlanta. I think the year before that I was at the Cathedral, with our beloved Archbishop. I think the year before that I knelt in a hotel conference room-turned-chapel. Palm Sunday seems to be a study in my personal frenzy/ unsettledness/ facing the future as a giant unknown.
I wish I could enter Holy Week more fully. I wish I could access more grace. I wish I could prayer harder, etc.
I shared this with a friend, Father Steve, at lunch time.
He told me that it was OK. He said that if we came to Jesus like, “Hey, look at me, I’m an all-star,” it wouldn’t be the same as like, “Well, Jesus, all I am is broken and stuff and I still need you.”
It reminded me of my sacraments. I’m super unprepared to receive what they would call my “First Communion”…I understand the implications poorly, I embrace Jesus halfheartedly at best. Only, God is still faithful and He always extends His love.
I’m super unprepared to receive what’s call “Reconciliation.” Oftentimes I’m still attached to my sins, still convicted that I was probably right all along, still hesitant to think that God has the best way. And yet, every time, God forgives me.
I’m still unprepared for the gifts of Confirmation, anointing of the Spirit of God…what the sweet heck? How do people get prepared for those kinds of things?
And so, I’m unprepared for Holy Week.
But, here it comes. And I hope on God’s mercy and grace to sustain me and carry me through. Per the norm.